Off Square Books, on of the three sister bookstores (with Square Books and Square Books, Jr.) in Oxford, offers remaindered, rare, out-of-print and used books. Off Square Books is also the venue for book signings, receptions, and other events, the most notable being Thacker Mountain Radio, a live variety show which regularly features a literary reading, a musical guest, a regular house band and an irreverent emcee. The seasonal, weekly variety show is broadcast live on local commercial radio, and rebroadcast statewide on public radio. This new Off Square Books location replaced a previous space leased since 1993. This eclectic mix of activity necessitated maximum open floor area, with retail display around the perimeter and on wheeled gondolas.
The project required removal of most interior walls, restructuring the roof and ceiling openings at existing skylights, removal of the phony colonial facade, and the provision of streamlined HVAC, lighting, and communication systems. Interior finishes are utilitarian with masonry finishes left mostly untouched and board ceiling repairs matching the existing "craftsmanship."
The transparent new facade beckons and engages pedestrains and accentuatues the historic cast iron and masonry. The new front door aligns with the sidewalk and crosswalk opposite - an extension of an open alley at the far end of the square - and interior openings extend the sidewalk's axis. When weather permits, the "storefront" retracts above the bench-like sills and the store's interior is open to the sidewalk and the courthouse square.
A small downstairs space at the building's rear is the shipping and receiving hib for all of the Square Books stores. Deliveries from the receiving window downstairs are processed through the new lift and then trundled through the retail space and down either sidewalk to the appropriate store. These old-fashioned pedestrian deliveries throughout the day further engage the commercial and community traffic traffic and space.