Editor’s Note: This is the 371st in a series of articles recalling vanished Huntington scenes.
UNTINGTON — The two families who opened the Renaissance Book Company & Coffee House came up with the concept for the store independently.
Neurosurgeon Dr. Panos Ignatiadis and his wife, Patricia, long had been talking about the need for a bookstore in downtown Huntington. So had Peter Levy and his wife, Kelly. Initially the two couples didn’t know each other, but before long they got together, talked things over and decided to make their individual dreams a mutual reality.
The new partners considered several possible locations for their new store but decided to locate in the former home of the Star Furniture Co. at 831 4th Ave. After extensive building renovations that included a new roof, new heating and air conditioning, wiring and plumbing, the store opened for business June 18, 1994. The owners credited construction manager Frank Wilkinson with pulling together the necessary renovation projects.
Assisted by Connie Post Designs of Huntington, the owners patterned their new store after an 18th Century British Library, with handsome shelving and room for comfortable sofas and armchairs. Two of the building’s original features added to the store’s charm — a unique double staircase leading to the café on the lower level and the café’s striking terrazzo flooring, valued at $100,000. Artist Mike Steele created the company’s logo and designed a striking storefront sign constructed by Paris Signs.
The Renaissance proved to be not only a bookstore but a community and cultural gathering place, offering book signings, poetry readings, children’s story hours, artist exhibits, musical performances and other events.
When a national chain, Borders Books, Music and Café, opened at the Huntington Mall in 1999, the Renaissance responded to the new competition by emphasizing its personal service, expanding its children’s offerings and opening a used bookstore in the basement. But ultimately the Renaissance closed its doors.