800 Cottageview Drive
800 Cottageview Drive
Traverse City, MI 49684
It just doesn't get much better than a trip to a charming library in a beautiful northern Michigan town; that is, of course, unless you discover an interesting bookstore in a very unique location—on the same day. In my last post, I wrote about the lovely Elk Rapids district library, and as luck would have it, I left that quaint library with enough time in the day for a stop in nearby Traverse City. I have blogged about bookstores in this town in the past (see Brilliant and Horizon), but I had recently learned of yet another shop in a fascinating historic setting, the former Traverse City State Hospital. Of course I had to visit Landmark Books.
The State Hospital opened in 1885 as the Northern Michigan Asylum, built to care for those with mental illnesses. The massive first building to open is known today simply as Building 50. Over the years more buildings were constructed ultimately resulting in a sprawling campus later known as the Traverse City Psychiatric Hospital. When first opened, the institution had only forty-three residents, but over the years it served over fifty thousand, and by 1959 had grown to include 1.4 million square feet of floor space. Yes, this place is huge. As advances were made in psychiatric treatment, the number of patients declined, and in the 1980s the hospital closed.
|Jeff Wescott behind the desk|
In the 1990s the hospital was refurbished and reborn as Grand Traverse Commons. Today this vast complex houses an array of shops, boutiques, restaurants, and galleries. Located on the lower level of Building 50 is Landmark Books.
The morning's gloomy weather had been replaced by sunny skies and pleasant temperatures, so the place was abuzz with shoppers and sightseers. It took a while to find a parking spot and locate the correct entrance in the almost castle-like structure, but once inside I easily located the bookstore.
On this particular day, the owner of the store was unfortunately not in, but a knowledgeable and friendly stand in, Jeff Wescott, was manning the shop. In between customers, Jeff filled me in on some details of the store.
This portion of the lower level, he told me, was originally used for storage. The hospital was self-sufficient having its own farm, the prevailing philosophy being that work was good therapy. So the bookstore actually resides in what once was a root cellar, very appropriate in my mind seeing as how books are the root of knowledge and food for the mind.
Landmark Books specializes in hard-to-find, hard-cover literature, poetry, and modern fiction.They also do book searches, book and book collection appraisals, and they will even help you build a home library.
Need a ribbon for your typewriter? Landmark Books can order one for you. Now that's a service you don't find in just any bookstore. Jeff says the owner also repairs typewriters, and I noticed several vintage models on display including a lovely pink one.
The store is compact with some of the book displays just outside the entrance along with a small table set up with a chessboard. Room has been made in the tight space for a couple of cozy sitting areas and even a fireplace.
This intriguing store is full of charm, and the owner has a wonderful sense of humor, evidenced in particular by a laugh-out-loud picture on the wall. (See photo at right.)
The owner, Paul Stebleton, is himself a published writer. At some point in the future, I hope to make a return trip to meet him. For now, I'm glad I had the time to pay a visit to this Landmark.