Pioneer Book Store Sports New Look

The newly renovated exterior of the Pioneer Book store in Provo seen on Saturday.

PROVO -- Pioneer Bookstore, 450 W. Center, just got a facelift that has social media buzzing and has put all eyes on a block of Provo that has received little attention or upgrades for decades.

Bookstore owner Rick Horsley and bookstore front-end manager Travis Patten have a goal to build downtown, particularly West Center Street and bring people back to shop. The new facade on the store and the building they have purchased just to the east is the beginning of their efforts.

The facade features the work of Alicyn Wright and her team of four women and her husband that worked miracles in just six days to transform the old buildings into a giant bookshelf featuring some of the great classics in literature.

"I saw this idea on a library in Kansas City," Patten said. "The idea is also on a bookstore in the Ukraine."

Patten said he choose the book titles to be used on the facade.  "They are books that I have read that have a broad appeal, or should have," he said.

Titles include "Les Miserables," "Hamlet," "Lord of the Rings," "Pride and Prejudice," "Huckleberry Finn," "The Life of Johnson" and "Right Ho, Jeeves."

The bookstore and Wright started planning the facade in February. The store also contacted Cindy Sweeten at the Redevelopment Agency Office that helped the store get a paint grant being offered to downtown merchants to spruce up the area. 

Before Wright's team could start, the building needed some plaster repairs and a background coat of paint.

"We are decorative artists," Wright said. "This is not what we do. This was a unique project. We are used to marbling and woodgraining. To me it was a big faux project."

Faux or real, the finished product, in just five days after the unveiling a photo of the store and facade has received national attention and more than 45,000 shares on Facebook.

Wright's team consisted of her, her husband Camron Wright, Vicky Wilson, Pattie Emery, Amanda Reschke and Kim Tycksen. All but one of the women reside in Utah County.

They started at 5:45 a.m. each morning beginning July 7 to try to beat the heat but generally worked until 5 p.m. On Saturday, July 12 they pushed to complete the project and worked until 10 p.m. Camron Wright was there to help build and move scaffolding and keep supplies handy. The uneven bricks on the 450 W. building gave them the biggest concerns.

"Pioneer Book was so good to work with and let us do what we love," Wright said. "These were a great group of women who knew how to take direction. We all care about detail."

No one on the team considers herself an artist and none of then have taken art classes. Wright said they are all self-taught. However modest, Wright is a professional and has been in the business for 20 years. You can find more of her projects at www.justfaux.com.

"One patron said the new facade 'made me feel like I need to quit using my Kindle and pick up a book,'" Patten said. "A group from Michigan called Bikers for Books saw the photo and said they have a new place to travel to."

Currently 444 W. Center has storage in it while they continue to do internal upgrades. They are hoping to have a reading room and an eatery or bakery as part of the store. It's still up in the air as to what it will be, Patten said.

Pioneer Book reopened last November after a three year absence in Provo. "It's fun to see people that are glad we're back in Provo. We're thrilled," Patten said. "The book business is difficult. We're in the business because we love it, not to be rich."

Pioneer books sells new and used books. Their new Center Street location offers reading areas, a children's reading corner and a conference room that holds approximately 70 people. The room is free for public use and is available by appointment. It also features a kitchenette for cooking classes and to serve refreshments.

Pioneer is also selling books online at www.pioneerbook.com. They also accept and purchase used books from the public. Their nose for old books is well known, and they help clients from all over the world find antique and unique books.

"We have a huge want list currently," Patten said. "We try to keep an eye out for those customers. The oldest book currently on the stores shelves is from 1679."

Pioneer Book, 450 W center,  is open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday, closed Sunday.

Daily Herald reporter Genelle Pugmire can contacted at gpugmire@heraldextra.com, (801)344-2910, Twitter @gpugmire

A 32-year veteran of covering news in Utah County, Genelle covers Provo, Orem, Faith/Religion, including the LDS Church and general assignments.

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