As soon as the Kenyon College Bookstore reopened in its former location in the south end of Farr Hall on March 16, students returning from spring break filled its study tables and stuffed chairs.
“I thought it would be noisier because of the new open space, but it’s really nice. It’s a really good place to study,” said Elizabeth Lemire ’21 of New Hartford, New York, working on her laptop in the textbook section.
The Kenyon Bookstore is the nation’s longest continuously operating college bookstore and the third-oldest bookstore of any kind in America. Lemire remembers a previous incarnation of this community gathering place because she visited as an 8-year-old — her parents are David Lemire ’91 and Elizabeth Lemire ’90.
“There was a section with children’s books, and I just sat and read and read. I remember that I sat on the couches and read a lot,” she said.
There is still a children’s section in the renovated space. There is also more natural lighting, a new facade, second-floor offices for the College’s information technology staff, a sprinkler system and an elevator.
The bookstore’s renovation is part of a phased downtown revitalization plan that already has improved access to Middle Path, added modern apartment residences for students and increased modern retail space, such as the new Village Market location on Chase Avenue. Last fall, the bookstore temporarily was located in the north end of Farr Hall, in the space the Village Market formerly occupied.
President Sean Decatur and Bookstore General Manager Angus MacDonell cut the ribbon at a grand opening ceremony on March 22. “The bookstore has always been more than a place to buy books and Kenyon gear. It’s also a place for us to hang out and read and come together as a community,” Decatur said.
In other construction news, crews demolished the northern two-thirds of Farr Hall to make way for three new Gaskin Avenue retail buildings. Construction of those structures will continue through the summer; one of those new spaces is for the return of the Gambier Deli, and several others will be used as temporary study areas during the construction of the Kenyon Commons library.
For now, George Goldman ’20 of Sharon, Massachusetts, is happy with the study tables at the bookstore. “The ambiance feels very similar to the old bookstore,” he said. “I expected it to feel different because of the colors and the space, but it feels very similar, and I’m happy about that.”