Addison's Books and Event Space, 126 South Gay Street, Knoxville, June 2022
Addison’s is a new antiquarian and used bookstore and event space that opened this week at 126 South Gay Street. I first spoke to owner Brian Worley about his plans last March and his excitement and vision were obvious. One step inside the beautiful new space and the vision becomes a reality.
The top floor (street level) features books that are about a hundred years old and older. Some are rare and difficult to find, while others are simply old and intriguing. The collection has been curated by Brian with the help of Helene Vachon, from whom he bought most of the books. Helene has worked in the business for over thirty years and placed and priced the books on this floor.
Additionally, tea directly imported from China, including some varieties you’ll not likely find outside of New York City or San Francisco. Brian recently met Stephanie Weir, whose husband is Chinese, and who has been mentored in Chinese Tea Service for six years in New York City.
She will operate a tea bar inside Addison’s, offering afternoon teas each day and will offer a full tea ceremony on weekends after hours. The tea bar will start operation on June 14, with teas available at the bar. Classes in brewing Chinese will be offered starting June 17 and groups are welcome to schedule events centered around the tea. You can find all the details about the tea bar here.
Coffee will also be available soon when the equipment arrives. Beer will be available for events.
Downstairs (in the basement, which would have been the first floor 120 years ago) is a different collection of used books, though they are not antique. Brian pointed out sections on witchcraft, world religions, biographies, anthropology, history, literature, and more. There is also a large section of children’s books. “These are books I acquired from estate sales, library sales, and personal sales. I’ve tried to make them interesting books. Maybe something that is a little bit harder to find, that you might not find . . .” elsewhere locally, though some you might.
There are a lot of different categories around the room, but one set of bookshelves will contain a rotating selection of three particular groups of books. Each month one will rotate off to be replaced by another. Mythology will start the special monthly selection. He said this group will include “books about mythology, biographies of the people who wrote about mythology, books that highly reference mythology.” He said there may be a special emphasis on southern France at some point.
He showed me a French book featuring cat illustrations. Another gave the history of carriages in London from 1750 – 1850. The illustrations alone were worth a look. “These are the kinds of books I’m after, books you don’t really see other places.”
There is a meeting space downstairs designed for small groups. A large conference table is in place and a large screen television will be installed for their use in presentations and a glass partition will be built to separate the space from the book collection. As is the case upstairs, there is an emphasis on cozy seating, inviting people to stay and enjoy the space.
The entire book store is available for events. Interested parties can reserve anything from the meeting space in the basement, to a single floor, and up to and including both floors. They are anticipating interest from business groups (and they’ve already had inquiries) to parties and other kinds of events. Inquiries for reserving a spot are taken here. They’ll also host classes in the downstairs space, including perhaps “classic movie nights.”
Hours are 10 am to 6 pm daily, Tuesday through Saturday and Noon to 4:00 pm on Sunday. They are closed on Monday. (Brian said he may extend hours later in the evening in the future.) You can also follow them on Facebook and Instagram. In the meantime, come by and check out this special new downtown spot.