History

The Book Thing of Baltimore, Inc., like all great ideas, began in a bar.  It was started by some teachers looking to drown their troubles and a bibliophile bartender.  The teachers needed books for their classrooms and the bartender couldn’t pass up cheap classics. The word spread and folks started bringing books they no longer wanted to the bar and other people came looking.

On 9-9-1999 the IRS proclaimed The Book Thing of Baltimore, Inc. a 501(c) nonprofit, making all donations tax-deductible.  In November, Russell Wattenberg quit his job at the bar to do “The Book Thing” full time.  In April of 2000 we rented the basement of 2645 North Charles Street as our first dedicated location.  It was 950 square feet with no bathroom, limited electricity, no parking, no handicap accessibility, no heat, no air conditioning, and no street visibility, but it was home.  And we opened our door to the general public every Saturday and Sunday 9-6.  In the fall of 2005 the building was sold and the rent began a steady climb upwards. The decision was made to find a permanent home.  

The task was made especially difficult given our bank’s response to our mortgage application - peals of laughter. We’d found a suitable building and all we needed to do was find someone to loan us $210,000 and raise $60,000 for the down payment and closing costs in 60 days.  There was a will and we found a way!  Once the financial hurdles were cleared came the logistics of building bookcases and moving the books. We closed the Charles Street location April 1st and reopened at 3001 Vineyard Lane April 30th - 7000 square feet of new home with heating, handicap accessibility and parking.

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