By Judy Wakefield
---- — It’s a two-part anniversary celebration for Andover Bookstore as the town’s only book shop is celebrating 50 years at its North Main Street location and more than 200 years in town.
Owner John Hugo called the bookstore a “pillar of Andover” in a press release and pointed to Phillips Academy as a key part of its success.
Andover Bookstore was the original bookstore for Phillips Academy Andover. Today, the bookstore is the textbook center for Phillips students and houses a complete line of clothing and gifts for the private school. Three times a year, a barrage of students head down Main Street to the bookstore and fill their backpacks with their textbook needs for the trimester.
But Andover Bookstore’s clientele is by no means limited to Phillips students. Its customer fan base stretches well beyond the elite prep school.
Local writer Mary McGarry Morris’ book release tours may take her to big cities around the country, but she always makes time to host a reading at her hometown bookstore, too.
McGarry Morris, who has won numerous literary awards and whose book, “Songs in Ordinary Times,” was an Oprah Book Club selection, said her local bookstore has delighted generations of Andover readers. She is proud that it continues to thrive.
“It’s so comfortable, just so comfortable,” McGarry Morris said. “To be comfortably surrounded by books and people who enjoy them just means a lot to me ... I enjoy that.”
Founded in 1809, Andover Bookstore is the second oldest continuously running bookstore in the country, behind Moravian Book Shop in Bethlehem, Penn.
Originally located on Phillips Academy campus, the bookstore made its first move to Main Street in downtown Andover in the late 1860s. It found its current home at 89 Main St. in 1963.
Although the store has changed owners and locations throughout the years, it has always maintained its charm and close ties to the community, said Hugo, who also owns bookstores in Marblehead and Newburyport.
Andover Bookstore has a working fireplace and encourages coffee sipping while perusing books in a comfy chair. There is also a children’s area, a wall covered with staff recommendations, a unique novelty gift area and second-floor seating, if needed, for author events. The shop hosts local book groups, poetry readings and creative classes throughout the year.
To celebrate its 50th anniversary in its current home, Andover Bookstore is hosting a storewide event and sale starting Sunday through next Tuesday, Dec. 29 through 31. For more information, call 978-475-0143 or visit www.andoverbookstore.com.