The Ivy Bookshop
When The Ivy Bookshop moves a quarter-mile down Falls Road this spring, Baltimore City will become the home of what might be the most beautiful and bucolic bookstore in the United States. Set on 2.7 lush green acres beside the Jones Falls, in a light-filled 19th century house remodeled by Ziger/Snead architects, the bookstore will be a surprise to those who associate the city with rough neighborhoods and presidential insults.
The 18-year-old Ivy opened its Lake Falls Village doors in dark days for bookstores, a time when the rise of big-box retail, Amazon and e-books combined to sound a death knell for concerns like Baltimore's Bibelot.
Now, thanks to the idealism and grit of three consecutive owners—founder Darielle Linehan, Ed and Ann Berlin, now Emma Snyder—it has survived to be a part of what could become a golden age for small business. Linehan conceived of and crafted a lively North Baltimore neighborhood bookstore; the Berlins expanded its reach through the city by partnering with key organizations like the Pratt and the Baltimore Book Festival; and since Snyder joined them in 2017--also the year a second location, Bird in Hand, opened near the Hopkins campus--the store's demographic has steadily broadened. As Snyder sees it, with every aspect of our lives awash in technology, "local businesses feel human. They create a space for community in people's lives."
The new Ivy will embrace that role, taking a building that used to be a sanctuary of the Divine Life Church and creating a sanctuary for books—plus a coffee bar, a workroom for classes and meetings, and a studio apartment for visiting writers or perhaps Airbnb types. Outside, on the lawn, in the meditation garden, on the wide porch and patios, one can easily envision weddings, literary salons, an al fresco summer reading series.
"Fundamentally, a bookstore is a collaboration between the owners and staff and the community," says Snyder, who plans to invite visual artists and urban gardeners to be part of the new Ivy.
"What can happen here is limited only by the imagination," she says. "Which is kind of perfect, since books are all about imagination."