Our History



Since 1929, the Penguin Bookshop has been a fixture in the heart of Sewickley, Pennsylvania. Though having been located in various storefronts over the years, the Penguin has been kept alive through the loyalty of its customers and the passion of its booksellers. It remains one of the community's greatest treasures. Read a brief timeline of our history, below.

October 1929 - The Penguin Bookshop first opened at 311 Chestnut Street. The owners and Sewickley socialites, Isabelle L. Adams and Eleanor Gilchrist, named their shop after their favorite book, Penguin Island by Anatole France. Gilchrist eventually moved to New York to become a literary editor, and Adams moved the shop to 434 Beaver Street, the former Schlump's Cigar Store.

1939 - Adams sold the shop to Adelaide M. Russel for $1. Adalaide and her husband, Douglas Ritchey, operated the Penguin Bookshop at 434 Beaver Street for over 40 years.

1981 - Elizabeth "Elsie" Barker and her husband, Chuck Allen, bought the business from the Ritcheys. They bought the property at 420 Beaver Street from James G. Park and moved the Penguin Bookshop to this location.

1987 - Margaret Marshall, a Penguin Bookshop staff member, bought the bookshop from the Allens. Marshall, with the help of her well-read staff and her cat O'Henry, served Sewickley booklovers for 20 years.

2007 - Marshall put the business and property up for sale in 2007. Janet and Bud McDanel purchased the Penguin Bookshop and invested their resources and passion into operating the bookstore for 6 years.

2014 - The McDanels sold the business to local resident Susan Hans O'Connor. O'Connor reopened the Penguin Bookshop in a fully renovated space at 417 Beaver St. She hopes the Penguin will continue serving the Sewickley community for many years to come.