105 Ivinson Ave.
Laramie, WY 82070
Phone: (307) 745-4423
Fax: (307) 745-4423
Email: cmealey@qwestoffice.net
Owner: Catherine Mealey
Personally Recommended Books/The Second Story, an independent bookstore in Historical Downtown Laramie, is located at 105 Ivinson Avenue. Open 10-6 Monday through Saturday, with extended hours during the holiday season.



People ask when they come up the stairs to the bookstore, “What did this building used to be?” Here’s a little history.

The upstairs space which houses the bookstore was erected as a public hall by J.F. Hesse in l889. Hesse’s Hall was the site of many large concerts and dances, including the Annual Brakeman’s Ball, Machinist’s Ball and the Union Pacific Orchestra Galas. For a time the hall served as an armory for Company A Wyoming National Guard. At that time it was a large open space with no rooms or supports dividing the space.

As other dance halls were built nearby, in the mid 1890’s George Phillips acquired the Hesse building and turned it into a hotel. There were 25 small rooms at that time. As the building was in the heart of Laramie’s Red Light District, the hotel often allowed use of its “upstairs rooms” for bordello activities. The hotel operated until the 1950’s. The downstairs spaces have housed a variety of saloons, eateries, and retail stores through the years. Al’s Midwest on the corner lot was a long standing men’s clothing store.

The bookstore opened in 1988 in two rooms. Albany Seniors bought the building in the 70s and rented the downstairs to the Laramie Senior Center. The upstairs remained vacant in a dilapidated condition until 1992 when Albany Seniors renovated it and rented it to the bookstore. The bookstore then became known as the Second Story. Both names are now used, the original Personally Recommended Books and The Second Story. The present owner purchased the building in 1995 when the Senior Center left the downtown location.

When the 5000 square feet upstairs was renovated, the rooms in the center were removed. The ones along the outside were retained and used to house a different subject area in each room. The décor was planned to complement the subject matter of each room.


The bookstore covers basically all subject areas but is particularly noted for its children’s collection. The owner’s daughter, a children’s librarian, selects the children’s books.

Since the theme of the store is Personally Recommended Books, we welcome recommendations from readers. We put a bookmark in the book with the name of the person recommending it, along with any comments they wish to make.

In addition to books, we have greeting cards and gift items. We also have espresso and give a free espresso drink with a book purchase.

We have occasional readings in the salon, adjacent to the children’s room. We hope this web site will encourage authors who are appearing in Denver or the vicinity to put Laramie on their itinerary. We have a guest apartment available for guest authors.

We subscribe to the New York Times (daily and Sunday), Time, Newsweek and the New Yorker. You are invited to come in and read them while having a cup of coffee. We usually have cookies or another treat available to entice you to stay and browse.

We encourage special orders. We can get most books, whether in print or out of print, in three or four days.

We have autographed copies of Locust by Jeffrey A. Lockwood and Honor Thy Father by Robert A. Roripaugh. Call us if you would like a copy,

In addition to the bookstore, Laramie has a booming downtown with 13 restaurants, five other bookstores, including an antiquarian one, six art galleries, and three coffee houses, as well as many interesting retail shops. All are independent, not chains. A delicatessen and organic foods business will open downstairs from the bookstore in late October.