The Seminary Co-op Bookstore will begin a new chapter in its 51-year history on Wednesday, Nov. 21, when it reopens in a new, larger space at McGiffert House, 5751 S. Woodlawn Ave. The bookstore’s last day in its current basement location at 5757 S. University Ave. will be Sunday, Nov. 11.
With 8,900 square feet in the basement and first floor of McGiffert House, the bookstore’s new home is better suited to hold events and signings, increase offerings in the sciences and non-English books, and accommodate customers at peak times in the academic year. Chicago-based Tigerman McCurry Architects also worked closely with the bookstore to preserve the serendipity and cozy browsing experience of the basement location.
"The Seminary Co-op is a child of this University and this extraordinary community,” said Jack Cella, general manager of the Co-op. “We are so grateful for the 51 years of support we have received, and we really look forward to another 50 years in a place that will enable us to better serve our customers, at a time when the book world is changing more quickly than anyone could have imagined.
“This move has been made possible by unprecedented support from the University of Chicago. We are thankful for their support, and feel certain that anyone who values bookstores will be thankful for that support as well,” Cella added.
The Co-op is planning a Nov. 19 event with UChicago faculty and community members to commemorate the moving of the last books from the old location to McGiffert House. A grand reopening event in the new space will be scheduled in the coming weeks.
57th Street Books, one of the Co-op’s branch stores, will remain open throughout the Co-op’s relocation, and customers can continue to place phone and online orders. In addition, the Co-op’s inventory will be accessible to bookstore staff during the interim period, so customers may request to have books from the Co-op sent to 57th Street Books for purchase.
The Chicago Theological Seminary sold both the 5757 S. University Ave. building and McGiffert House to the University in 2008. The Seminary moved in early 2012 to a new building at 60th Street and Dorchester Avenue. The University selected Ann Beha Architects to carry out the renovation and adaptive re-use of the building at 5757 S. University Ave., which will become new space for the Department of Economics and the Becker Friedman Institute for Research in Economics. The University funded the renovation of McGiffert House and the Seminary Co-op’s relocation.
The Seminary Co-op Bookstore opened in 1961 with 17 members. It now has 54,000 member-owners and two branch stores—57th Street Books and the Newberry Library Bookstore.