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Warwick's: The History

Warwick's is the oldest continuously family-owned and operated bookstore in the United States - here's the story:

Warwick's founder, William T. Warwick was born in Atlantic, Iowa in 1867. The day after his High School graduation in 1886, he got a job working for the Des Moines Book Company, thus beginning his seven decades as a bookseller. After three years working in the Des Moines store, he moved on to manage their Sioux Falls branch for the following seven years. In 1896, he purchased his own store in Mankato, Minnesota, christened it “Warwick’s” and remained there until 1916, when he moved to Waterloo, Iowa, taking his wife, two sons, and the shop with him.

Meanwhile, in La Jolla...  Redding’s Book Store was founded in 1902 and was operated by Mr. E.L. Redding and his wife Genevieve. Redding’s was originally on Cave Street and later moved into the W.C. Sheppard Building on the corner of Wall and Girard (the building was demolished & replaced in 1985.) Around 1921, the Reddings again moved their shop to a building owned by the Corey family at 7816 Girard Avenue - essentially the current location of the store (see image at right). Genevieve’s recollections (from writings in the 1960’s) on the move:

“I was passing a frame cottage with two large palm trees and a veranda where Dr. (Martha) Corey, mother of Fred Corey, was settled in a rocking chair. She asked me if I would be interested in a store building in this location. I said I was sure we would, so that was the beginning of the building at 7816 Girard and where Redding’s was located for 18 years.”

Site of the Corey House, circa 1910, future site of Warwick's on Girard Avenue

E.L. died suddenly in 1934 and Genevieve continued to operate Redding’s on her own. In 1939, W.T. Warwick, who had a sister living in La Jolla, sold his store in Waterloo, purchased Redding’s from Genevieve, & renamed it Warwick’s. W.T. and Genevieve were later married.

In December 1944, W.T., mired in a dispute with the owner of the building at 7816 Girard (a 200% increase in rent), moved Warwick’s to 1038 Wall Street. (The Wall Street location is now part of the building housing Whisknladle.) In 1950, W.T. decided to retire and sold the store to his son, Charles Wynn Warwick and his wife Louise. In 1952, Wynn decided to move the store back to 7812 Girard Avenue, where it has remained since, albeit in different formats. Around the time of this move, Wynn also hired Betty Buchan, a long-time San Diego bookseller, who would go on to significantly expand the book section of the business.

Girard Avenue circa 1959The third generation took over in 1964, when Wynn's son Bob and his wife Marian assumed ownership. 1976 brought the first of several significant remodels for Warwick’s – the space directly next door, previously occupied by Burriston’s Shoes, was acquired, essentially doubling the store’s floor space. The space occupied next to that – between Burns Drugs and Warwick’s – was also eventually added, allowing for more space for the ever expanding book department. Bob and Marian turned the reins over to their daughters, Nancy and Cathy in 2001 – the fourth generation of Warwicks to run the store and the current owners.

Below left: Wynn Warwick, 1965.  Right: Bob & Marian Warwick, 1988. 


Above left: Wynn & Louise Warwick at the 1940's Wall Street location.  Above right: Warwick's today.