Her Love of Reading
Image: Her love of reading
The exploration for a good book never ends for Hiram alumna Ellen Eckhouse ’85. Her love of reading, collecting, and sharing books encouraged her to open her very own bookstore in 2005. And today, after 17 years, she continues to warmly welcome all who enter her cozy store in Garrettsville, Ohio, looking for a new story to enjoy.
Many of her friends and family helped support her journey when she first began renovating the store, which sold video games before Eckhouse arrived. “The walls were black and lime green, so I really wanted to spruce up the place and restore it to what it might have been before,” she said.
One patron that frequents the bookstore is Lisa Baldwin, wife of Hiram College President David Haney. “We’ve traveled all over the country and beyond, and we go to bookstores everywhere we travel. This is most definitely in our top three for used bookstores,” said Baldwin. For forty years, Baldwin worked as an elementary school teacher and is pleased to see the vast representations of genres in the Village Bookstore. Additionally, she values the receptive, warm nature. “Ellen and the bookstore represent what we need, not just here, but all over the country. Everyone can feel safe about who they are,” she said. “Our students need to feel safe every moment of every day. At Hiram, students know they can be who they are, unapologetically.”
When Eckhouse attended Hiram College with her high school sweetheart, they often studied together and spent years enjoying the College and its many opportunities. “Hiram has always been such a unique, welcoming, and open-minded place. That’s the draw for so many people. It’s truly a hidden gem,” she said. Eckhouse often reminisces about the concerts and art exhibits she used to attend at Hiram and celebrates the changes the College has made over the years.
Eckhouse graduated from Hiram as a music history major and became a freelance harpist, which she continues to play to this day. She serves as an adjunct harp teacher at Hiram and loves generating interest in the instrument during the College’s 3-week session in the spring. “Truly, the best thing about Hiram is the people. My two favorite professors were my history professor, Roland Layton, and my music professor, Damaris Peters Pike. Pike encouraged me to play my harp in madrigal dinners and never yelled or got short-tempered with me,” she said.
Eckhouse advocates the College daily to her patrons. “A liberal arts education creates a foundation that helps you grow in whatever direction you want to go. I didn’t know what I wanted to do when I went to college or when I left college. But the classes I had taken helped tap into skills and interests I didn’t think I had. It really broadened my education,” she said. “When prompted why she continued her education at Hiram, even if she didn’t have a direction of what she wanted to pursue as a career, Eckhouse said, “Your education is not always linear. Hiram helped me with not just my education, but who I wanted to be as a person. I think I’ve changed in many ways because of my time there.”