Shop History

Founded in 1977 by Terry and Don Johanson, the Kelmscott Bookshop continues to attract customers with its nostalgic charm and collection of rare titles. Home to books in all subject areas from the late 1600's through today, the shop holds something of interest for everyone. Originally located in a historic row house, the Kelmscott was the first of a number of book stores to form Baltimore's Book Row on West 25th Street.

The name of the shop honors William Morris, an eminent designer and craftsman known for his commitment to the production of high quality handmade products for the common man. It was with these ideals that Morris founded the Kelmscott Press in 1891 and began designing and printing a collection of exquisite books, most notably the Kelmscott Chaucer. Today the Kelmscott Bookshop continues to celebrate its namesake by carrying many books relating to William Morris and his press.

The Kelmscott Bookshop is currently owned by Fran Durako, a bibliophile and a former chief information officer at a large DC law firm. She purchased the shop in 2003. Madeline With the change in ownership came a few notable additions to the shop including Madeline, the lovable cat - and later Sinclair and Pierre. Under Fran's ownership the shop has slowly transitioned from being a general used book store into focusing on the book arts and rare books in all areas.

In the summer of 2021 amidst the Covid pandemic, the shop relocated to Historic Savage Mill on the ground floor Carding Building. Within Savage Mill there are two cafes, a bar, an antiques mall, an art gallery, yoga studio, and an entire building of retail shops featuring multiple arts and crafts vendors. The mill is scenically situated above the banks of the Little Patuxent River with a lovely walking trail across the river, accessible by crossing the historic Bollman Truss Railroad Bridge. Visit us and spend the day shopping, eating, and meandering the trail.

With our move came a few changes. Most notably (to our regular customers) the shop kitties no longer reside in the shop. Sinclair does occasionally come in to visit, but Pierre prefers to stay at home. Additionally, we now specialize in rare books and the book arts and have a very limited selection of general used books. All of our inventory can now be browsed and purchased through our website. While we are still in the shop most weekdays, we no longer keep regular hours - so, please make an appointment before visiting.