The History of Vroman’s in Iambic Pentameter

by Jessica on April 13, 2018

By Rebecca


In honor of National Poetry Month


Born on the Ides of April in La Salle,

There was a man named Adam Vroman who

Would one day build the greatest store of books.

He trained as a photographer at first,

A passion that would stay with him for years.

He married at the age of thirty-six

To Esther Griest who suffered from TB.

“We’ll move out west,” good Mr. Vroman said.

“To Pasadena where you will improve.”

But sadly Mrs. Vroman didn’t live

And Mr. Vroman grieved his loving wife.

He sold his vast collection of fine books

To raise the money needed for his dream

Of opening a bookstore that would be

The largest seller of the written word

In all of California and the west.

Along with Mr. Glasscock he began

To put his plan in motion and quite soon

They opened their doors to the neighborhood.

Their shop sold books and stationery too

As well as Kodaks and photo supplies.

When Mr. Glasscock sold to his partner

The store continued to expand forthwith.

But Mr. Vroman still loved photographs

And went on expeditions in the west

To photograph all that he could find there.

His generosity knew not a bound.

He helped a rival open his own shop

That sold the same books as Vroman himself.

When sadly Mr. Vroman died he left

His store to his most loyal employees.

In 1920 Vroman’s moved locales

Just three blocks down on Colorado East.

It moved again in 1929

To 695 East Colorado where

It still continues to this very day.

The store kept growing as the years went by,

But during the Depression building ceased.

In ’39 an author series launched

To bring together writers and readers.

There were no programs held during the war,

But 1944 made fifty years

Of Vroman’s Bookstore serving its neighbors

And one year later made it official

That Vroman’s was the largest in the west.

The store reached further than it had before

When Vroman’s on wheels visited places

In California, Arizona, and

Utah that were remote and didn’t have

The access to a bookstore so instead

A Silver Streaks trailer from Vroman’s would

Come calling with a vast supply on board.

The store was named an institution by

McCall’s who praised the store and all the town.

“A city of readers” is what they said

Of Pasadena in the mid ’60s.

The 1980s saw a wealth of guests

From Dr. Seuss to President Carter

The stairwell featured art in ’91

And still today it decorates the walls

To showcases artists from the area

Continuing the legacy that was

Begun by Mr. Vroman to give back.

One hundred years had passed by ’94

And what had started with the wise sale of

A personal collection of fine books

Was now an institution in its right.

The ground was broken for expansions that

Resulted in the current layout that

We see today upon arrival when

We enter Vroman’s Bookstore to peruse

The shelves of countless books and gifts and more.

The store was honored in 2008

With an award from Publishers Weekly

That named Vroman’s the seller of the year

Of books throughout the whole entire country.

The Gives Back Program carries on the work

Of Mr. Vroman’s kind philanthropy.

For twenty years, the store has given back

To charities in the community.

And so the bookstore started years ago

Still thrives and is an institution for

A vast community of readers and

The authors who stop by to read and sign.

That is the tale of Vroman’s Bookstore, but

It is a tale that is far from finished.