PLAINVILLE — As Antara Marchirago walked to the grand opening of the just-constructed An Unlikely Story bookstore this morning, she told her classmates, “I’ve been watching them build it all my life.”
She was not far off.
Antara is four years old. It took about three years to construct the building that now houses the bookstore, a coffee shop, meeting room and studio on the corner of South and East Bacon streets.
The excitement Antara and her classmates from Kismif Child Care in Plainville experienced was not limited to little children.
Dozens of residents turned out for the opening of the impressive colonial-style building constructed largely with recycled materials from old buildings, such as the Nutty Buddy candy factory in Boston and a tobacco barn in Kentucky.
Residents and Plainville officials said the building could help revitalize downtown and would create a focal point for the community.
“I’ve said this could be the start of a renaissance for downtown Plainville,” Selectman George Sutherland said.
The building replaced the iconic Falk’s Market, which held a special place in the hearts of Plainville residents, but had fallen into disrepair. They said owner Jeff Kinney, author of the popular Wimpy Kid children’s book series, went all out to replace Falk’s with a handsome modern building that pays tribute to the past.
Project manager Stan Kubinski said Kinney wanted to incorporate features from the 1856 Falk’s Market into the new building without replicating it.
He said Kinney went through extraordinary expense making the building the most environmentally friendly in the area, using recycled building materials, and putting solar panels on the roof.
Most of the furniture is made from old materials taken from objects such as a fishing boat destroyed in a tsunami in Indonesia.
Kubinski said Kinney’s vision made the project difficult, but enjoyable.
“This was my dream job. I’ll never get to work on a project like this again,” he said.
Town Administrator Joseph Fernandes said Kinney’s commitment to the community is even more impressive than his building, although he admitted he was struck by the beautiful wood floors.
Although Kinney is best known as the author of the best selling Wimpy Kid books that have been made into movies, he said he did not want the bookstore to be about his books.
The store has a small Wimpy Kid section, but mostly it is an ordinary bookstore with classics such as “To Kill A Mocking Bird” and the latest biography of Hillary Clinton.
“It wouldn’t serve the community very well to have a Wimpy Kid store,” he said. “We wanted this to be about the community. A new bookstore would do just that,” Kinney said.
Besides, he said, most children in Plainville already own all the Wimpy Kid books.
Kinney joked that when he told his financial advisers the level of detail he wanted for the building, they told him, “you’re crazy.”