In the spring of 2010 we closed for three months
to undergo a major renovation to our building,
which entailed stripping the entire first floor
to repair the foundation, then
installing new flooring and shelves.
This project was in the capable hands of
We can't recommend them highly enough.
Click on any numbered photo below for an enlarged view.
Click here to read the Union-Tribune's front page article about Adams Avenue Books and our renovation/reopening.
February 11 THE PROJECT BEGINS!
Work begins in the back part of the first floor. The rest of the store is still open and accessible, but all books in the back rooms have been boxed and moved upstairs for the duration of the work. This includes the following sections: Children's Books, American History, Western Americana, Americana by State, California and San Diego, Native American. A limited number of books in these subject areas remain available for browsing on the website.
Photos below show the back rooms of the store as they were and with the work in progress.
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1. Entering the American History area after passing the bathroom door.
2. View through the doorway into the Children's Room in back.
3. SW corner of the Children's Room.
4. NW corner of the Children's Room (and NW corner of the building).
5. & 6. The whole area shown above, cleared of shelves and stripped of flooring.
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7. Digging through the foundation, exposing the pipe that drains from the downstairs bathroom under the back rooms.
8. Tools of the trade.
9. & 10. The books from the back rooms in their temporary new home, directly above on the 2nd floor, in boxes crammed into the Science and Religion rooms--sorry about the tight squeeze!
February 22 NEW DOORWAY
A new doorway is being added to connect the middle room, where most of the history was, to the back children's room. The doorway will cut through the wall behind the stairs that used to hold books about Mexico and Latin America.
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11. The original Mexico and Latin America sections behind the stairs in the middle room. (For the original view of the other side of this wall, see picture 3 above).
12. The area cleared of books and ready for demo!
13. The new opening, looking through from the middle room to the back children's room.
14. The new doorway opening, viewed from the other direction.
March 3 FACELIFT
The exterior is stripped. We'll return with a better and brighter storefront soon!
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15. Unfortunately the awnings didn't make it through the last major storm.
16. Naked building!
17. Part of our old sign (since 1965!).
March 7 THE BIG MOVE
Demo starts Monday, March 8, so everything has to be out of the first floor today. It took 8 people about 7 hours to get all the books into boxes and then over to the storage unit.
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18. We started with 500 boxes to pack everything in, and we still ran out.
19. & 20. The main aisle in the front room before and after being cleared.
21. Felixia surveys the desolation from atop a packed box.
22. Lonely bookends.
23. & 24. The first aisle in the front room, once the browser-favorite Literature section, now eerily bare.
25. & 26. Our front room work station behind the Art section, looking toward the Psychology/Mystery aisle: the original mess and after it was wrangled into boxes.
27. & 28. The WWII and Russia/Great Britain aisle in the middle room, before and after packing.
March 8 & 9 DEMOLITION & DIGGING
Destruction begins. Everything is ripped out - even the divider wall between the front and middle rooms.
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29. & 30. The original entrance view of the store ... now a giant pile of rubble!
31. & 32. The bottom of the stairs (Film section), now with a special cat door added to keep our precious kitty beasts safe upstairs during construction.
33. Brian and Michael survey the demolition in the middle room.
34. Looking from the middle to the front of the store, at the back of the rubble pile.
35. The FIRST load of debris gets hauled away.
36. Bart is not happy about that jackhammer.
37. & 38. Busting through the floor, the whole crew at work.
April 1 IT GETS WORSE BEFORE IT GETS BETTER ...
Deep trenches are dug along the west and north walls which will allow the guys to shore up the foundation with rebar and concrete. Meanwhile, painting begins outside.
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39. & 40. The northwest corner of the building where the two trenches meet (formerly the children's book area). Some concrete has already been poured and rebar added for reinforcement.
41. Turning 180 degrees from the NW corner above brings the main west wall trench into view through the new doorway.
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42. Our contractor Ron oversees the work.
43. The main trench running the entire length of the west wall, seen from the front door.
44. & 45. The large downstairs area (what used to be divided into the front and middle rooms) viewed from the stairs and from the front door.
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46., 47. & 48. The tiny windows and dark paneling caused the store to be mistaken for a bar more often than we liked, so we decided to restore the large front window (old timers in the neighborhood may remember the one that was there years ago). Soon there'll be a matching picture window on both sides of the door--making more sunspace for Bart and Felixia and a brighter entry for the rest of us.
49. The large window facing 35th St. was sinking at an angle toward the ground, so it's been temporarily removed while this trench provides access to reinforce the foundation beneath.
50. New paint and new lettering are already sprucing up the exterior.
April 7 MEANWHILE, WE SOLDIER ON UPSTAIRS
The worst part about all of this is that we're closed for the first time ever to our regular customers. Many of you have called to check on our progress, and we're so glad you haven't forgotten about us while we're out of commission. To maintain at least a partial stream of income we're continuing to list books online and fill mail orders from all over the world. To accomplish this, we've squeezed ourselves and all of our online books onto the second floor along with all the books that are normally there.
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51. Felixia tries to get comfortable upstairs; boxes will just have to substitute for her usual perch at the top of the cat tree.
52. Brian and Betsy conference in the office he's set up in the Theology area.
53. The main aisle upstairs, crowded with bookshelves housing books from downstairs, not to mention Brian's temporary office.
54. The cookbooks kitchen became the catchall for downstairs debris we weren't sure what to do with.
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55. Alice toils away in the office we've set up in the staff break room.
56. The already narrow hall to the science and religion rooms is further constricted by boxes and temporary bookshelves.
57. Every last cranny upstairs is filled with books from downstairs, including the addition of temporary shelving in the walkways.
58. Scott diligently catalogs books for online sale in our crowded back office upstairs.
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59. Michael plugs away in his office upstairs.
60. Bart settles into his current favorite sunny sleepy space in the overcrowded Biblical Studies room.
61. Our best thinking place.
April 13 THE BIG FILL
We're finally ready for concrete. Sturdy rebar cages have been prepared and concrete is poured in around them to fill in the trenches and stabilize the foundation.
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62. The first stage of rebar installation, when horizontal pieces were set into concrete under the wall.
63. & 66. A completed rebar cage ready for pouring in the back room, and another in the main trench along the west wall.
64. & 65. The NW corner after being filled, and after the final pour of concrete to top off the trench areas so they are even with the original floor level.
67. & 68. Two views of the main trench after being filled.
69. & 70. The main trench, after the final pour brings it level with the original floor.
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71. No foundation work was required along the east wall, but a little concrete was poured to level off the floor.
72., 73. & 74. The guys are also doing some work outside along 35th street to prevent water seepage under the sidewalk.
April 21 IT'S GONNA LOOK DIFFERENT AROUND HERE ...
Now that the foundation and floor are level and stable, work begins on interior structures.
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75. & 76. Our new counter will be positioned differently, parallel to the east wall facing the front door.
77., 78. & 79. The bottom section of the stairs will have a shorter wall enclosing it, enabling a view from the landing of the entire main room downstairs.
80. & 81. The main room will be brighter and more open, thanks in part to the addition of a large window on the front wall.
82. The old green door back in the children's room is replaced with a new emergency exit door, and replacing the frosted windows around it with new clear panes will brighten up the space considerably (see photos 5 and 6 above for the "before.")
April 27 NEW FLOOR!
Having new carpet installed is terribly exciting! No more shredded evidence of feline destructiveness, no more tripping over bumps and rolls in stretched out old material, no more mystery stains that predate anyone currently on staff ... plus that heady new-carpet smell! We're also laying down new laminate in the entry area and around the front counter.
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83. Prepping the floor for new laminate and carpet.
84. The main room with part of the laminate and carpet laid down.
85. The new laminate in the entry area.
86. & 87. Cutting the giant carpet roll into pieces to fit around the counter, bottom of the stairs, etc.
88. & 89. Treating the concrete floor and then smoothing the carpet over the entire area.
90. We love the new color!
May 5 DO YOU BUY BOOKS?
It's the question we're asked more often than any other, and our temporary shutdown hasn't changed that a bit. Of course, we're not able to do our usual over-the-counter trading for everyday stock, but we're still evaluating large, private collections of fine books, and we've acquired hundreds of excellent books in preparation for our grand reopening. Finding a place to store them in the meantime has resulted in somewhat uncomfortable working conditions, but we're dedicated to having the best available books on display when we're finally able to welcome you back to the store. Look for great new books in Art, Medieval History, Ancient History, Philosophy, Military, Children's, Books on Books and other print arts, Natural History ... and we're not finished looking yet!
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91. One collector we recently met with was kind enough to move his books into his garage so we'd have easier access to evaluate and then load them into our cars.
92. Michael selects books worthy of integration into our store inventory.
93. & 94. Brian loads up his van at the site. An additional SUV was also filled with hundreds of gorgeous art books in beautiful condition from this collection.
95. & 96. Back at the store, Brian unloads his van onto a handcart swiped from the contractor, while Betsy wheels another load in from the second car to an area in the back corner we hope won't interfere with the workers' progress too much.
97. Brian attempts to configure the least precarious arrangement of stacked, loose books that he can.
98. Michael shows off one of his favorite new acquisitions.
99. The books are snugly covered under a thick canvas tarp to prevent construction debris from ruining them.
100. Brian spends many late evenings amidst the construction chaos, hunched over a laptop balanced atop a stack of books, preparing them for display in the store.
May 17-20 THE PACE PICKS UP
We're reopening this Saturday, 22 May. The work's not entirely finished, and many of the books are still in storage, but it's safe enough for people to come in to check out the new design and browse a lot of the new books we bought while closed. Everybody's working at warp speed to get things ready. It's really gonna look different around here ...
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101. - 103. Beautiful tile is set around the windows and along the base of the exterior walls.
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104. - 107. Finally! The plywood that's kept us in the dark so long gives way to the bright outdoors as new glass is put in.
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108. & 109. Our new front counter will be much nicer to work at, with a great view of the entire store as well as the street outside.
110. & 111. Remember this unsightly area on the way to the bathroom? Just look what something as simple as a door can do!
May 17-20 NOW LET'S SEE, WHAT ARE WE MISSING?
If we want to reopen Saturday, the very least we need to do is have some books out. But what will we put them on? The guys are working at breakneck pace to get some shelving built, stained, and installed.
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112. - 115. From a pile of lumber to a sturdy shelving unit ready for installing in the Children's Room.
116. Tim secures the bases for the units in the back room.
117. & 118. Units go up piece by piece to create full-wall shelving around the room.
119. We can finally start unpacking and putting books back on the shelf! The Children's Room is the first area ready for visitors.
120 121 122 123120. & 121. The process is repeated for each section. Here work goes on in the new American History area.
122. The camera flash catches what the naked eye can't see--sawdust in the air. What happened to those breathing masks?
123. Empty boxes wait to be flattened in front of the restored American History section.
May 17-20 SO MUCH TO DO, SO LITTLE TIME
There seems to be no end of things to take care of before the doors open. Besides building and installing all the shelving, people are working on myriad tasks here and there--sanding, painting, surface finishing, inspecting, hauling books out of storage, shelving, cleaning, etc.
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124. & 125. One of many conferences on the work floor to iron out final details, before everyone scatters to work.
126. & 127. The cabinet maker is crafting a number of new glass cases to showcase our collectable books.
128. & 129. He's also adding sleek granite-look surfaces to the back work counter, the front counter, and around the first landing and bottom part of the stairs, as another worker sands the doorway in preparation for painting.
130. Our worn old door was vigorously sanded and gets a new coat of bright red paint.
131. Of course, everything must pass city inspection before people are allowed access.
132. Two trips to the storage facility to haul away over 50 boxes barely make a dent in the pile.
133. We saved the old sign from the front of the building to hang on the front wall in the main room.
May 21 THE DOOR OPENS TOMORROW ... NO, WE'RE NOT PANICKED
Less than 24 hours until the floodgates open ...
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134. At least, Bart's not panicked.
135. Nobody said anything about wet paint.
136. You've emailed, you've called, and now you're coming to the door, wondering when we'll be back. Thanks for your (im)patience.
137. Felixia scopes out the back room on her first venture downstairs in months.
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138. Bookstore detritus has migrated from place to place as work went on around it; now Michael wanders through the Children's Room trying to come up with a new (out-of-sight) home for the pile in time for the reopening.
139. The downstairs bathroom makes a roomy closet.
140. That should take care of it.
141. Quoth the raven, "Never done!"
May 29-30 THE GRAND REOPENING
We've been open for a week, but this weekend marks the official grand reopening, and hundreds of our long-time customers are here to check out the redo.
142. & 143. The exterior is cleaner and sharper with new paint and tile, new awnings, and new lettering around the top.
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145. - 148. Our new red door welcomes visitors into the entry area, which is brighter and more open with the big picture window added to the front wall and the counter repositioned to face the front door.
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148. The twin picture windows give us a view of the entire intersection outside--a vast improvement over the tiny little windows that used to be set in the front wall.
149. Five new glass cases were custom built to house special books.
150. & 151. The main aisle showcases the glass cases on one side and a comfy seating area in the art section on the other.
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152. We still have our little work station under the stairs, but the area in front of the doorway is less cramped.
153. This area around the bottom of the stairs is the new home of history and military history books.
154. & 155. Now that the bottom part of the stairs is no longer walled off by a tall bookshelf, most of the first floor can be seen from the landing.
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156. & 157. A new passageway opened up behind the stairs provides a second way to access the back children's room.
158. The back room is much more open without the center bookshelf wall dividing it.
159. New windows really brighten up the children's area.