Beecher, Kymer & Patterson
Kalamazoo's Turn of the Century Bookstore
One might adopt the notion that once affixed with the moniker Paper City, that Kalamazoo might have had a disproportionate number of booksellers situated along its bustling downtown streets. But, a glance at late 19th century city directories reveals that typically, there were listed about two to four bookstores each year. There were C.H. Caryl (1893), G.H. Raynor Co. (1895-1899), Catholic Book Store (1901), Caryl Book and Music Store (1901) and J.W. Patterson (1896-1901). The one bookseller that notably stands out for its longevity, born on the eve of the new century, was Beecher, Kymer & Patterson.
In May of 1899, local businessman George Raynor sold his bookstore to Henry W. Beecher & J. Leo Kymer of Grand Rapids prior to relocating to Terre Haute, Indiana. Located at 120-122 S. Burdick Street (later on at 133 S. Rose Street), one of Kalamazoo’s longest operating bookstores furnished the young city with an array of books, stationary, wallpaper, games, school supplies, text books, and even hammocks.
The two Grand Rapids businessmen sent Arthur J. Patterson, a Chicago native, to Kalamazoo to manage the store. Patterson, who also became a partner in the business, left his managerial role in 1902 to focus on his own entrepreneurial venture, the Flinch card game. Bates E. Clarke, initially a store clerk from the start, became a partner in 1916, and operated the store until he and Patterson sold the business to a Detroiter named Michael Linstrom in 1947. The bookstore lasted another twenty years at its Rose Street location, finally closing in 1967.
Article written by Ryan Gage, Kalamazoo Public Library staff, August 2023
“Raynor sells out”
Kalamazoo Gazette, 13 May 1899
“Bookstore to vacate building it has occupied over 60 Years”
Kalamazoo Gazette, 19 October 1941, p.5
“Beecher, Kymer, and Patterson book shop sold”
Kalamazoo Gazette, 2 February 1947, p.2