I found out about Baldwin’s Book Barn by chance. I was looking for something very close to home, and would provide a new experience for my son. When I came across this used book store, I knew I found a worthy place for a couple hours of our time. Built in 1822, it houses around 300,000 used books, maps, and prints…all 5 floors of rooms are lined with book filled shelves. In various corners and isles, there are hard back chairs for your reading pleasure, and there is very knowledgeable staff that point you in the right direction for every kind of book you could imagine. It is cash only though, so be prepared to bring a few extra dollars than you think you’ll spend. Books have a way of catching your eye, and since they are used, they tend to be cheap.
When we first walked into the store, we were brought back in time with the distinct smell of wood, leather, and the elements…it is an old barn after all, without the central air or heat of modern times. Antiquarian display boxes line the cozy room, along with prints, maps, and antique furniture. It has low ceilings, and every space seems to be filled, but you don’t feel overly crowded. To the right is a large arched door, propped open for a view of a long hallway lined in books. After stepping in the hallway, you realize you have now entered a maze, as there are small rooms leading to other small rooms filled with hardbacks and paperbacks. It’s a world away from the hectic grind of today’s normal shopping experience.
The steps leading to each floor are narrow, and occasionally make you wonder if more than one person should go up at a time. If you don’t ask staff where something is, you can still aimlessly roam around and be able to find your way with small signs placed above the shelves. Or maybe you don’t want to find your way at all, and just randomly look for something that sparks your interest. That’s what we did. There were plenty of moments where I turned a corner after flipping through some pages, and saw my son doing the same with whatever he reached out to grab. There was also a couple times where I didn’t know where he was, and just waited with a book in the same spot he left me.
I can’t wait to go back on a crisp fall day, bundled in a hoodie, and maybe after having a glass of wine. I want to find a place to sit and browse through old poetry books that I wouldn’t normally ever look at. Or maybe get caught up in an old memoir. And it would be absolutely lovely to find prints not in circulation any more from some of my favorite authors. They are open every day from 10am-6pm, with the exception of Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year.