Join us as Posy Roberts goes Outside the Margins.
Anyone who has visited Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN in the last twenty years has probably been to the Chateau Barnes & Noble. The building, decorated as a medieval village, was originally Chateau Dodge Theatre and was later converted into a cinema. In 1994, B&N took over the site, which is a block away from Mayo Clinic.
Ever since, it has been a place of respite for people visiting the clinic. It’s two stories of reading delight, which drew people from all over the world. Visitors in waiting rooms and hallways asked where the castle was, and when a newcomer first walked in, you saw them stare in wonder at the star ceiling and castle walls, being overtaken by the experience.
B&N brought us to Rochester in 1998. We’d been in Fargo, ND for graduate school but wanted to move. John’s jobs in radio and television were being taken over by computers, so he knew he needed a career change. We visited friends, who took us to the Chateau B&N.
We were enchanted. The building was fantastical. John decided to apply for a job as a bookseller and was hired on the spot. We had nothing left for us in Fargo, because I could finish writing my thesis anywhere. So we moved. John became a manager at B&N before he left to work at Mayo in 2000.
Chateau B&N turned out to be our stomping grounds. While John worked his shift, I would order the biggest hazelnut latté I could manage, buy a book, and go hide out in a corner downstairs that was probably the house manager’s office at one point. It was a cozy little nook where wonderful things happened in the books I read and in real life.
One snowy day, a man with distinctive curly blond hair came and sat across from me. He gave me a reserved grin, which I returned before going back to my book. Inside I was giddy. Art Garfunkel was sitting no less than five feet from me reading a book! When I told my husband this later, he said, “Oh, he comes in here all the time lately.”
So that was cool. But B&N was more than a place to see many famous faces. It was the familiar ones that brought us back. Many of our close friendships were made there. We met cool people with open minds and varied interests.
When John moved over to his job at Mayo, he still visited B&N for his coffee fix, sometimes going there three times a day. The people in the café loved him so much that the manager knighted him, using a pen that had a flower taped to it as her sword. Heck, when you work in a castle with a dragon overlooking the children’s department, it rubs off. After that, he was known as Sir John, and people shouted his name in greeting. When I’d use John’s B&N Member card, cashiers would say, “He was just in here a few minutes ago.”
Of course he was.
The B&N at the local mall is newer and has a media department, unlike the Chateau location, but it’s not the same. It’s generic, like every other B&N out there.
We grew up in Chateau B&N, moving from our late twenties into our early forties. It was always a place of respite after sitting for hours at Mayo Clinic talking to doctors about our daughter’s prognosis. I was able to relax there in an environment that alluded to a simpler time, not just in history, but in my own life. And books surrounded me!
On December 31, 2014, the doors closed for the last time. We were there. Many people were taking photos, saying good-bye, and paying respects. John laid a pen with a flower taped to it at the center of the closed gate because he needed to have some closure, some ceremony. It choked a few people up, including me. Goodbyes are hard.
Bookstores are magical places, but the Chateau Barnes & Noble was fantastical. It will be sorely missed.
~ Posy Roberts
About Posy Roberts
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.
Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,
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