A Return Visit to the Magical Bookstore in the Country - Owl Pen Books

Monday, October 18, 2021

 Book - A magical doorway to a world of adventure and possibility.

If books are a magical doorway to adventure, there's nowhere filled with more adventure than southern Washington County's bookstore in the country - the Owl Pen Books.  The adventures waiting inside the walls of the Owl Pen aren't the only adventures you'll find......the trip there is also an adventure.  We made our first trip in the spring when it re-opened for the summer season and again this past weekend before their doors close again for the winter months.

Taken in the Spring

Taken October 16th

Located on Riddle Road in Greenwich, the ride was a little like winning the photo op lottery. Unlike most book stores which are normally located in malls or cities, Owl Pen is located on the narrowest of dirt roads in rural Washington county.

You might think a book store hidden in the middle of farm country wouldn't be well known, but as I learned when doing my research, that is totally not the case when it comes to Owl Pen.  The modest bookstore has been featured in the Washington Post, the Philadelphia Inquirer, Adirondack Life and many more.  An article in the Times Union by Paul Buckowski said that "Owl Pen Books was a dream come true for its founder, Barbara Probst, who found the house in ruins in 1945, repaired it, started an egg and sheep farm, then used the money she earned to open a used bookstore in 1960. The hog pen where Probst spent her first winter while fixing up the house was also the first bookstore. There were never any owls housed at the farm, Probst just liked the name, Owl Pen. At the height of her egg business she handled 1,800 eggs a day, but eventually she sold off the chickens and turned their roost into book shelves."

In 1980 Barbara sold the property to Hank Howard and Edie Brown who have operated it ever since. Hank passed away last year and Edie is looking to enjoy retirement so the property and store are currently in contract with a new buyer who plans to continue the tradition of this literary paradise.  The books at Owl Pen, a number over 100,000,  now fill two buildings .... books of every subject from inexpensive used books to antique collectibles.   I'm not a big reader, but I could spend hours perusing the aisles reading titles from my childhood and much prior, books in every subject imaginable. I've collected a large number of old, colorful, beautifully worn books to display in my decor and John has collected some for the traditional use ;)

I could have spent days reading the many articles I found when I googled Owl Pen.  It seems the little bookshop in the country isn't as secret as one might think.  Of all the articles I read, this one by Jim Nolan of Campus News was the most entertaining.  His story of how Barbara Probst, an editorial assistant for Mademoiselle magazine in NYC came to become the owner of this little farm in the country.  Do yourself a favor and have a read: https://cccnews.info/2021/08/16/unique-upstate-new-york-bookstore-200-year-old-home-for-sale/  Another wonderful account of the treasure known as Owl Pen is a blog post by John Greenwood's Raining Iguanas: Owl Pen Books   Take time to read it, his writing is simply enthralling!

Now I owe you an apology. The Owl Pen closes for the season on November 1st.  Until then, they are open Wednesday-Sunday, 11:00am - 5:00 pm.   Dress warm if you go because, it's a barn after all.  Owl Pen is located at 166 Riddle Road in Greenwich, about 7 miles from the village.  Be sure your GPS takes you by way of North Road.....it's a country lovers' paradise.  We found this gem on our way.
I wish I'd taken more photos inside but if you visit the Owl Pen's Facebook Page (https://www.facebook.com/OwlPenBooks) or their blog https://owlpenbooks.wordpress.com/about/ you'll be able to see more.  Whether you're a bibliophile or just love a charming store in the country, the Owl Pen will not disappoint.  Thank you Edie, for continuing the Owl Pen tradition that Barbara Probst created and for the gift of reading and shopping pleasure you gave every patron who stepped into your magical lair for the past 40 years.  I hope you have a retirement filled with lazy afternoons and good reads!  Happy Retirement. 
For more great bookstores in Upstate NY:

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