The Midtown Scholar
1302 North Third Street
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania


Harrisburg’s Midtown neighborhood has been reshaping itself in fits and starts over the last decade or more. The North Third Street section includes the Midtown Cinema, the Broad Street Market, and several other businesses that aim to make Midtown a cultural destination.

I will be sharing a few Midtown “wonders” with you over the next few weeks. The first on my list is the Midtown Scholar Bookstore. In addition to a separate warehouse from which the Midtown Scholar operates one of the most expansive academic and used bookstores on the Internet (including more that 1 million second-hand and out-of-print scholarly books), they also boast a fantabulous retail store. This great location offers a coffee cafe, comfy reading nooks, and a play area for kids. Midtown Scholar also hosts musical guests, lectures, and local club meetings.

The upstairs gallery hosts rotating collections of art. These paintings, by artist Keith Pomeroy, are featured through January 2011

Generally speaking, it makes me sad when vintage theaters are no longer in business … but this oh-so-awesome bookseller puts a smile right back on my face. The Midtown Scholar’s owners, Catherine Lawrence and Eric Papenfuse, relocated their retail business to the former Broad Street Theatre in 2009 and extensively remodeled the space. According to several historical sources (which sometimes offered conflicting details) the theater was originally built in the 1920s, suffered a fire, and was rebuilt. It seems to have closed for good in the late 50s or early 60s. Several business have operated in the building during the intervening years – including a small department store and Fissel & Co. Antiques. It is a brilliant re-use of the building and a real treat to visit!

If you are looking for the latest “sparkly vampire” book … you might not find it here; but if you love the classics, history, travel, research, and the arts you will be enchanted! Are you are a coffee-lover? If so, you will be in love with their selection! I don’t drink coffee but the aroma is pure heaven.

The Midtown Scholar even has an outdoor balcony with an excellent view of the the Broad Street Market — and that’s Pennsylvania’s Capitol Building in the distance to the right (see image below). Check out the gallery at the end of this post for more pics and be sure to visit the Midtown Scholar the next time that you’re in Harrisburg!

There are all kinds of intriguing little nooks and crannies to explore. I love the little room upstairs – I think it’s a workroom and temporary home for unsorted books. How cool is that little random window!


The Midtown Scholar is open Monday – Thursday 8am – 9pm, Friday – Saturday 8am – 10pm, and Sunday noon – 7pm. Visit them online at

17 thoughts on “The Midtown Scholar

    1. Actually, it’s dittos that have that smell. The technical name for the machine was a spirit duplicator sold by Ditto, Inc. 🙂

      Though I did love that smell

  1. This bookstore is absolutely amazing – it has a great open space inside that often features concerts and talks on community issues. The book selection, particularly nonfiction books (with a speciality on Pennsylvania history) is terrific.

    I would also recommend stopping across the street – the historic Broad Street Market has wonderful Amish/Mennonite foods, as well as fun, ethnic restaurants and is far less hectic than Lancaster’s Central Market. (The Market is only open W, Th., F, and Sat)

  2. As a book seller and collector, I shop as many books stores as I can find during my travels. I live in Colorado but I recently enjoyed a nice morning shopping at the Midtown Scholar in Harrisburg while visiting family. What a great store! The non-fiction books were fantastic, especially the Pennsylvania history and other Americana. Next time I’m in Harrisburg, I’ll be sure to stop in again.

  3. They actually DO have a candle on Etsy called “Old Books,” lol, but not mimeograph.
    I am going to a book event today here from 4-6.

    1. Marty, it is, indeed. Plus, this building used to be a theater (and a department store) many moons ago … so it has loads of that vintage vibe PLUS books. My favorite things 🙂

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