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Owner says Bartleby’s Books and Music will reopen before Thanksgiving

WILMINGTON—Lisa Sullivan, owner of Bartleby’s Books and Music in downtown Wilmington, said the flood-ravaged store will reopen by November.

Tropical Storm Irene’s record-breaking floods filled the store with almost five feet of water in August.

Sullivan and her husband, Phil Taylor, watched the rain and Deerfield River waters fill Main Street from their three-story building.

Taylor, a contractor, decided to break the store’s front picture windows to help release some of the pressure the five feet of flood waters were putting on the building’s structure.

When the couple smelled propane in the water, they evacuated via the second floor, climbing up a steep hill behind the building.

Sullivan had previously lost her Brattleboro-based store, The Book Cellar, to the Brooks House fire in April.

Within days of Irene’s devastating damage that rendered some downtown buildings — like the beloved landmark, Dot’s Restaurant — uninhabitable, Sullivan and Taylor went to work emptying and drying out their business.

Sullivan said “an army of volunteers” pulled out soggy books, soaked shelving, and drenched drywall within 48 hours. The store’s door has been replaced, said Sullivan. New windows are also installed, but this time raised farther from the ground.

In anticipation of future floods, said Sullivan, the building’s furnace was relocated to the second floor. Closed-cell insulation, which dries out after a flood, replaced the former material.

But the changes don’t stop there, according to Sullivan. She has converted a portion of the second floor into retail space. It will serve as a place for people to sit and congregate, she said.

“In the end, the feel of the store will be better,” she said.

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Originally published in The Commons issue #120 (Wednesday, September 28, 2011).

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