Greater Harrisburg's Community Magazine

Midtown Scholar plans 3rd Street expansion for book annex

The long-time home of Fornwald’s is slated to become an annex for Midtown Scholar Bookstore.

Midtown Scholar Bookstore is expanding once again, as the owners have purchased a nearby building to house a retail annex for discounted books.

Last month, Harrisburg Mayor Eric Papenfuse and his wife, Catherine Lawrence, bought the long-time home of Fornwald’s Window Shades, a 3rd Street window treatment business that recently closed.

The new storefront, which will feature marked-down inventory, will allow Midtown Scholar to free up space in its main building for more new releases and “our favorite backlist titles,” Lawrence said.

“The bookstore is always growing,” she said. “Community-centered, independent bookstores are thriving nationwide these days, and the Midtown Scholar is part of that resurgence of local retailers.”

Recently, Midtown Scholar bought out the contents of the century-old W.H. Allen used bookshop in Philadelphia. About half of the retail space in the new annex will house that inventory, which includes about 40,000 secondhand books, Lawrence said.

The single-story building at 1324 N. 3rd St. was constructed in 1948 to house a dress shop. In 1986, James Fornwald bought the 1,576-square-foot building at tax sale for $1, according to Dauphin County property records.

According to Lawrence, over the years, Midtown Scholar and the Fornwald family had spoken several times about buying the building. A deal was made after the Fornwalds decided to close their shop, and, in March, Papenfuse and Lawrence purchased it for $30,000.

The building requires renovation, but Lawrence said that she expects to open the space in time for the next Harrisburg Book Festival in early October.

“It is a great early 20th-century shop building, and we are looking forward to fitting it out for book browsing,” Lawrence said.

Midtown Scholar has grown considerably since opening its first retail location on the 1500-block of N. 3rd Street. A decade ago, the bookstore moved into much larger space at 1302 N. 3rd St., then expanded into the corner building next door.

Papenfuse and Lawrence also own several other buildings along the 1300- and 1400-blocks of N. 3rd Street.

For more information about Midtown Scholar Bookstore, visit

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