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Zumbrota's historic library to start its next chapter in July

Andy and Anna Smith, who own Garden Party Books and Gray Duck Theater & Coffeehouse in Rochester, have adapted the main floor of Zumbrota’s former Carnegie Library into a bookstore. It will open July 1 under the name of the Zumbrota Literary Society.

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ZUMBROTA — The next chapter of Zumbrota’s famous literary landmark is slated to start soon.

Andy and Anna Smith, who own Garden Party Books and Gray Duck Theater & Coffeehouse in Rochester, have been working on adapting the main floor of Zumbrota’s 113-year-old former Carnegie Library into a bookstore.

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They purchased the classic building at 310 East Ave. in February for $150,000.

“It took longer than we thought it would, but it should be ready to open on July 1,” said Andy Smith. “The main level will follow the same model as our Garden Party store in Rochester with used books, cards and crafts.”

The couple decided to match the name of the store with the historic nature of the building. It will be called the Zumbrota Literary Society. The Zumbrota Literary Society is the name of the local book group that originally petitioned philanthropist and titan of industry Andrew Carnegie for the funds to build the library in 1907-1908.

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While the Smiths will be selling used books and more upstairs, the lower level of the historic library will remain as Crossings at Carnegie. The art gallery, run by local artist Marie Marvin, will sell art and offer classes as it has for many years.

“We’re going to start with used books, but we hope to add new books for the next stage. Hopefully, by the holidays,” said Smith.

To prepare for the opening, he said they have hired three new employees for Rochester’s Garden Party store at 602 Seventh St. NW. Plus a new creative director for both of the bookstores is expected to start later this summer or fall.

Biz buzz

This isn't the only local historic building being transformed to house something new.

In Rochester, a project is in the very early stages that add a restaurant to a very old downtown building. If this plan moves ahead as hoped, I'll have more to serve up this in the near future.

Jeff Kiger tracks business action in Rochester and southeastern Minnesota every day in "Heard on the Street." Send tips to jkiger@postbulletin.com or via Twitter to @whereskiger . You can call him at 507-285-7798.

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Jeff Kiger writes a daily column, "Heard on the Street," in addition to writing articles about local businesses, Mayo Clinic, IBM, Hormel Foods, Crenlo and others. He has worked in Rochester for the Post Bulletin since 1999. Readers can reach Jeff at 507-285-7798 or jkiger@postbulletin.com.
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