by Sam Levin
The Book House has found a new home -- but the historic property the business is leaving behind in Rock Hill is likely to face demolition.
"It breaks my heart to see that building go down," Book House owner Michelle Barron tells Daily RFT. "That whole house has been more of a home to me than any other place I've been. I'm really sad to leave it."
But there's good news. Barron, a tenant in Rock Hill for decades who first learned of her eviction this spring, signed a lease yesterday on a new property in Maplewood, which means the Book House will stay alive.
See also: - Book House: Will Developers Demolish Historic Rock Hill Site For Storage Facility? - Book House: Shop in Historic House Gets Eviction Notice, Storage Site in the Works - Archive Bookstore: Independent Shop Will Likely Shut Down, Owner "Heartbroken"
"It's going to be amazing," she says of the shop's future home at 7352 Manchester Road in downtown Maplewood. "It'll take a lot of work to get it all up and ready, but when it's all open, it'll blow you away."
She adds, "The location cannot be better."
The saga of the Book House's relocation first began in April when word spread that an out-of-state developer was looking to buy the Rock Hill two-story gothic-revival house that dates back to 1853. The historic site, on 9719 Manchester Road, made it on the Missouri Alliance for Historic Preservation's annual list of most endangered properties in the state, and for good reason.
The development company recently submitted formal plans to Rock Hill officials to tear down the building and construct an "EZ Storage" facility in its place. Most recently, Barron -- who first got an eviction notice in May -- has been disputing with her Rock Hill landlord Rex Stahl, but she was able to get an extension on her lease through September.
Now, she hopes to operate a clearance sale while simultaneously moving to the new site in Maplewood.
"I really think we'll be an asset for the neighborhood," she says. "Everybody is saying how much they can't wait for us to move in. Even when we were there putting signs up in the window, twenty people were stopping by. So many people are excited about us coming to Maplewood."
The Book House will launch an online fundraising campaign this week or next, she says, noting that it will be around $40,000 to $60,000 to move and set up the new location. She hopes to open up the Maplewood site in the fall and have the store in full swing by the holidays.
It's bittersweet, she says, noting that she even lived full-time in the Rock Hill property for about five years.
"It saved my life," says Barron.