Home Bookselling Here’s what to know about the bookstore coming to Beacon Hill this fall

Here’s what to know about the bookstore coming to Beacon Hill this fall

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Beacon Hill Books and Cafe will contain a community gathering place, cafe and numerous books.

A new bookstore is coming to Beacon Hill this fall, just in time for back to school.

The four-story Beacon Hill Books and Cafe, designed to feel like home, will also include a cafe on the first floor. Details throughout the store, which is expected to open after Labor Day, will focus on creating space for the community, from the family atmosphere that operators aim for to the store’s mascot, Paige the squirrel.

Melissa Fetter, the store’s founder and owner, told Boston.com that Paige, an adorable squirrel with a fluffy tail, is the cornerstone of the store’s logo and is integral in creating magic for kids who visit the store. .

Photo courtesy of Melissa Fetter. – Photo courtesy of Melissa Fetter

She lives in the store and reads books at night, leaving a tassel on the books she recommends, Fetter said. The next day, while Paige is playing with other animals in the public garden, the recommended books are read during story time.

“We’re actually publishing a book that tells the story. …there’s a squirrel named Paige, and Paige lives in the bookstore and reads children’s books at night,” Fetter said. “But Paige is very present in the store. …there will be a small window where you can look out and see Paige’s house. … It is a central theme in our history.

The book is due out in late September, once the store is up and running.

Fetter, a WBUR board member and Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum board member, lived in Beacon Hill years ago but returned in 2019 and noticed there was no bookstore in the community, a gap she knew she wanted to fill. She has spent the past two years overcoming pandemic-related delays and challenges to redo the interior of the building.

Beacon Hill Books and Cafe will fill 71 Charles St., which once housed The Hungry I restaurant downstairs and apartments above, Fetter said.

“It’s so obvious to me that if there was one part of Boston that should have a great bookstore, it’s Beacon Hill,” she said. “It’s a known fact that bookstores thrive in communities that are full of readers who really want to have a bookstore, so I knew I had a good chance of making it a successful business.”

The first floor of the building will be the cafe, led by chef Colleen Suhanosky of Brookline’s Rifrullo. The cafe will serve everything from breakfast to afternoon tea. It will also house a wine bar and sell cookbooks.

To start, the cafe will be open from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. but will eventually serve dinner, Fetter said.

“It will be more than a typical bookstore cafe, it will be a very high quality restaurant, and Colleen is a top notch chef and I think the community will really welcome our presence,” Fetter said.

The next two floors of the Greek Revival building will be filled with books of general interest, with special rooms for books devoted to aesthetics as well as books to read while traveling.

Climb the stairs one more floor to the fourth floor and you will find the children’s and young adult sections.

“A lot of effort goes into creating a very magical place, somewhat reminiscent of what we have in mind for the nursery in Peter Pan or Mary Poppins,” Fetter said.

Details include a fireplace and a model train that winds through the rooms in its own dedicated tunnel, all to make the experience as special as possible for visitors.

Rendered by Monika Pauli. – Rendered by Monika Pauli

Fetter said the hope is for the bookstore to have “an atmosphere that feels like a private home,” with nooks and crannies in the rooms and stairwell. It will also be accessible to all with elevator access.

Beyond the day-to-day operation of the bookstore and cafe, like many independent bookstores, Beacon Hill Books and Cafe will also host events and speakers.

“We’ll have author talks, we’ll have experts come in and talk about a really wide range of topics, from history and parenting to art and cooking,” Fetter said. “I think there’s also just a natural community that forms around a bookstore – people coming and going and sharing ideas.”

Fetter said she hopes the store can be a gathering place for community members to find good books and chat.

“A section of the store will be dedicated to what our neighbors are reading, so you can come in and get ideas for what to read next,” she said. “The bookstore is really for the community to adopt. I’m sort of serving the platform, but it’s really up to the neighborhood to take the concept from there.

Although Fetter had no experience selling books, the idea took several years to mature. She said she’s excited to be working with the team she’s building and welcoming the Beacon Hill community to the store.

“We worked tirelessly for nearly three years,” Fetter said. “There are so many little details in the store that I can’t wait for people to see and enjoy. I can’t wait to hear what the kids’ reaction will be. … Ultimately it’s meant to be fun, I’m doing this to share with the community and be joyful in the process.