PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — You don’t have to buy anything to enjoy the atmosphere at Baldwin’s Book Barn in West Chester, and we really mean barn.
“It has this very rustic older feel. What’s the history behind this place?” CBS3’s Meisha Johnson asked.
“This was a dairy barn that was built in 1822. After the war, the Baldwins bought the place and had it fixed up, and opened it as a bookstore in 1946,” said Fred Dannaway with Baldwin’s Book Barn.
Dannaway gave CBS3 a tour. Whether to browse or buy, visitors can explore nooks and crannies on four floors, sections on almost any topic you can imagine.
“Everywhere we go it’s just hundreds of hundreds of books,” Meisha said.
Fred says, “We are really on the tourist trail we get so many people who visit the local museums and stop here.”
But be prepared. The heating system looks like a museum piece itself.
“It’s a lifesaver because there’s no other heating system in the barn. Book people are silly, they’re crazy! They don’t care about weather,” Fred laughs.
After 17 years of working here, Fred is full of stories. He once found a first-edition copy of “The Great Gatsby” in a dusty side room.
“And the dust jacket was pristine. In that blurb, they misprinted Jay Gatsby’s name. They misspelled his first name with a small ‘j.’ They had someone create a hand stamp of the capital ‘J’ on it. Well, that made that book worth $100,000!” said Fred.
Sometimes Hollywood calls asking for props.
“This movie that stars Nicole Kidman, Brian Cranston, and Kevin Hart, and they wanted like 150 feet of books!” Fred said.
Then there are the invisible visitors.
“I’ve heard that you’ve had some hauntings?” Meisha asked.
“One of which happened to me!” Fred said. “Want to hear it?”
“Yes!” Meisha said.
“There was one car in the parking lot,” Fred said. “So I was waiting for them to come down, and two young girls came down, and she said, ‘You can’t leave yet. There’s someone, there’s an old gentleman sitting upstairs reading a newspaper.’”
“And I’m thinking, my, that’s kind of strange. because there’s no other car in the parking lot,” Fred adds. “So I go up to look and there’s no one there. There’s no one there. And I keep thinking, why would these girls say something to me like that? Every time I go past that spot upstairs, I look at that chair and think.”
“So we are not alone,” Meisha said.
Baldwin’s Book Barn is at 865 Lenape Road, West Chester, PA 19382. To find out more, the store number is 610-696-0816.