Metro-East News

Bookstore and bakery to switch buildings across historic Route 66

Bailey Cakes and Afterwords Books to switch buildings

Bailey Cakes and Afterwords Books are switching buildings across the street from each other for their "forever homes."
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Bailey Cakes and Afterwords Books are switching buildings across the street from each other for their "forever homes."

It’s the business version of a do-si-do on historic Route 66, as Afterwords Bookstore and Bailey Cakes will exchange buildings after Christmas.

Pickup trucks full of books will crisscross with bakery equipment across Vandalia Street in Edwardsville in the days following the Christmas holiday, as Afterwords moves into Bailey’s building and Bailey moves into Afterwords’ building.

For Afterwords, it’s the third move in five years, but owner LuAnn Locke says this will be the bookstore’s “forever home.”

“This is it,” she said. “This location is going to have to work, because I don’t have it in me to move again.”

Afterwords was originally owned by Rebekah Shelton in a storefront on Main Street, a new-used bookstore with a variety of programs, including children’s programming and a documentary club. Locke bought the business five years ago, and in 2012, she moved to a location on Buchanan Street. Three years later, Locke was able to rent a larger house at 454 Vandalia Street, a building with a lot of history.

The three-story Hotz House was a tourist inn for Route 66 travelers for many years. It was built in 1897 by wealthy Edwardsville lumberman Joseph Hotz, who was first president of what became First Cloverleaf Bank (and chief deputy to his brother, the sheriff), according to local historian Cindy Reinhardt.

The house became a tourist inn in the early 1920s, housing as many as 12 people at once. More tourist cabins were added in subsequent years, some of which still exist on the house’s property.

Across the street sits the Wheeler House, another historic building. Built in 1898 for the Wheeler family, which owned a number of houses in the neighborhood, it became the Hi-Way Tavern and Cafe in 1934, owned for years by the Catalano family.

Bailey Cakes was founded in 2013, and last year, owner Laura Lynch moved from their original location on Main Street — right next to the original location of Afterwords — to the Wheeler House.

Bailey Cakes specializes in cakes and cupcakes, particularly decorated wedding and birthday cakes. But as the business grew, Lynch wanted a building where her family could live above the bakery.

I think it’s going to be a wonderful thing for everybody.

Bailey Cakes owner Laura Lynch

At that point, the owners of the buildings were selling off some of their real estate, and offered Locke the chance to buy the Hotz House, as she was the current resident. But Lynch was also looking at the Hotz House, and together they decided to switch.

Lynch purchased the Hotz House from the landlord, and Locke purchased the Wheeler House from Lynch.

“I think it’s going to be a wonderful thing for everybody,” Lynch said. “I think LuAnn’s going to be super excited, and she’s been so wonderful to work with. I can’t imagine this would have worked out with anybody else.”

Locke said she plans her big move for Jan. 7 and will reopen on Jan. 14. While the new location won’t have a second floor for discounted books, Locke said most of their programs will stay the same.

“It’s not really a game-changer,” she said. “We will continue to host our book clubs, documentary club, our weekly story times.”

And they’ll still accept those older books, Locke said, but excess books will be donated to charity drives or offered for free.

Like Locke, Lynch said Bailey Cakes is moving to its “forever home.”

“I’m tired of moving; I don’t want to move any more,” Lynch said. “It definitely takes a lot to move the entire business.”

For Lynch, the biggest appeal is for her family to live on the upper two floors and have the bakery on the first floor. It also will have more space for her employees.

“We’re a little cramped in the decorating room right now, and those rooms will be a lot bigger,” she said. “I may possibly be able to hire additional people.”

The businesses stayed open through Christmas, but officially closed on Friday.

“I’m not excited about moving again, but I am excited to be putting down roots, to buy a building and not renting anymore,” Locke said. “Hopefully people will see it as our commitment to the community ... We are here to stay. We’re not going anywhere.”

Elizabeth Donald: 618-239-2507, @BNDedonald