In Beacon Hill, a great new library has finally come to life

It took longer than expected, thanks to the pandemic, but over the past few years, Fetter has changed Former location of Hungry I . Restaurant In a book lover’s dream, with floor-to-ceiling bookshelves in pale blue, upholstered benches, and hidden reading rooms.

The store’s collection covers literary essentials, as well as a few specialty sections chosen by Director Erin MacDonald: “Around the World,” “Food for Thought,” and Persephone Books, a British publisher reprinting works of women’s authors in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The Deep Red Room features one of New England’s largest interior design book offerings. The fourth floor is filled with a jumble of children’s nicknames – for kids and teens – which Fetter designed to mimic the nursery at “Mary Poppins”.

Preparing children’s tea in the children’s room. John Tlumaki / Globe Staff

A café next to it will also serve lunch and afternoon English tea before transforming into an evening lounge with wine and snacks. (“Think of it as a place for women after work, looking for a place to relax,” Vetter said.) A long table on the second floor is the backdrop for dining events, led by Chef Colin Suhanoski of Riverroll.

“I want this to be a destination for the people on the hill, those who have their brains up their sleeves,” added Vetter, WBUR Board Member and Gardner Museum’s Board of Trustees. “Everyone here is a reader.”

Fetter bought the building in 2019, about a year after the storefront was built Listed for $4 millionaccording to Boston Magazine, and caused much of it to be destroyed.

Amazing look down the stairs. John Tlumaki / Globe Staff

With the help of Pauli and Uribe Architects, Fetter re-wired and installed an elevator, but kept the interior in its original 19th-century style. Any remaining decorative elements are to be seen. Fabrics and wallpaper come courtesy of Kathy Kinkade, an interior designer best known for decorating residences, including Fetter’s Beacon Hill home. The scattered wood carvings – from pens, globes, or artist paintings – were done by local sculptor Laurent Robert. The gold leaf artist Fetter on Instagram has added glitter to many store signs.

The only question now is how the store will perform in the age of online shopping, just as the neighborhood is recovering from the pandemic recession.

Experienced independent libraries Bump in interest during COVIDCharles Street saw multiple closures when crowds were evacuated from downtown. But there are only a few bookstores left in downtown Boston, and a recent unofficial survey by the Beacon Hill Civic Society showed that locals are eager for something to fill the area’s literary void. (The neighborhood’s commercial street was once home to the bookstore and the Laurie Bookstore, but both have long since closed.)

Vetter, who returns to Boston after 40 years in California and Texas, believes the three elements—community support, meetings, and organization—would be enough to attract residents and tourists alike.

“Accidentally finding a book is something that an algorithm cannot provide,” she said. “You don’t always want to read books like the ones you have before. You need time to browse. You need recommendations. You need us.”

Paige, the squirrel mascot, is on a sign outside. John Tlumaki / Globe Staff

View of Paige’s small room on the children’s floor.John Tlumaki / Globe Staff

Beacon Hill Books & Café is set to open over several floors in an old building on Charles Street in Beacon Hill.John Tlumaki / Globe Staff

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