Over the weekend the Washington Post reported that the Newman Bookstore, in operation since 1955, will close this May. According to the article, the owners of the building where the bookstore resides, who are Paulist Fathers, received an offer “they couldn’t refuse” from a new renter. Unfortunately, the bookstore, located on 4th Street, NE on St. Paul’s campus, has not been bringing in enough profits to break even and the university cannot afford to subsidize it. The article describes the library this way:
Newman Bookstore, where top cardinals in town from the Vatican have brushed elbows with young seminarians and urbane laypeople…Its popularity stemmed in part from its ability to be a neutral intellectual ground during a half-century of intense Catholic culture wars. Since the second Vatican Council in the 1960s, Catholics have been separating themselves into two camps on everything from how much authority God intended for clergy to contraception. The store prided itself on carrying the full range of Catholic thinking and is one of a few in the world where you can peruse a full aisle of Catholic ritual guides in Latin (for traditional types) and another on feminist Catholic theology (for the more experimental). It stocks a huge section of books from popes John Paul II and Benedict as well as from prominent church critics, including James Carroll and Garry Wills.
The non-profit bookstore has changed locations over the years, originally it was on 8th Street, then moved across the tracks, and eventually onto St. Paul’s Campus five years ago. The article is a quick read and rehashes the development vs. historic character of neighborhoods discussion, with the decline of Catholic presence in Brookland woven throughout. Although I regret to see historic institutions disappear, it seems like bookstores in general are struggling to stay afloat, regardless of their particular circumstances, so I doubt development can really be blamed for this closing. Lastly, another thread in the article is the old moniker for Brookland – “Little Rome”. Although I have heard of this nickname before, I have never actually heard it used in day-to-day conversation. I guess that was larger point of the article after all.
The Newman Bookstore is located at 3025 4th St. NE, is open Monday to Friday from 9:00 -5:00, and Satudays from 10:00 -4:00. They will be liquidating their inventory with the following discounts for everything in stock: Februray – 25%, March – 50%, and April 75% off.