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Montague Bookmill named one of five best in New England 

  • Recorder/Paul Franz<br/>Montague Booik Mill in Montague Center on the Sawmill River.
  • Recorder/Paul Franz<br/>Montague Book Mill owner Susan Shilliday

— The Montague Bookmill has been named one of the “best five used bookstores in New England” by a regional magazine and a Massachusetts travel writer.

Yankee Magazine and author and rural New England book store enthusiast Richard F. Wright have named the local bookstore one of New England’s best in Yankee’s January-February issue.

According to Wright, 62, of Jefferson, he has converted his lifetime avocation of reading and book collecting into a “mini cause” to save what he describes as a threatened species, the rural bookseller, and he wrote a book, and made his choices to help that cause.

Wright, who has visited many rural bookstores throughout New England over the past 30 years and who describes 70 of them in his book, including 39 full-service and 31 used bookstores, said The Montague Bookmill fulfills the “true definition of a ‘destination bookstore.’” “I’m thrilled we were chosen and really appreciate that they named us,” said Montague Bookmill owner Susan Shilliday, who has owned the 25-year-old bookstore for the past five years.

The Montague Bookmill started as a gristmill in 1842 and in the early 1930s was purchased by Martin Machine Co., which bought and repaired the building, installed two turbines and made machinery that it sold throughout the world.

In 1987 Jim Murphy and Allen Ross purchased the property and turned it into the bookmill. They built a deck overlooking the Sawmill River. In the building with The Montague Bookmill were restaurants, including The Blue Heron, and other specialty stores and cafes throughout the years.

David Lovelace and John Petrovato bought the bookmill property in 1992 and it changed hands again in 1999, when Mark Beaubien took ownership.

In 2007, Shilliday, who spent 25 years in Hollywood as a screenwriter, bought the property and continues to run The Montague Bookmill today.

In 1996, Tiny Tim of “Tiptoe Through the Tulips” fame recorded a video interview in the bookmill and hours later suffered a heart attack while performing at the Montague Grange hall.

Shilliday said she was contacted by Yankee several months ago and knew the bookstore was going to be on some sort of list, but had no idea it would be chosen as one of the five best in New England.

“After 25 years, visitors still commit to traveling to western Massachusetts to browse among the Montague Bookmill’s 30,000 used and rare volumes,” said Wright. “Its cafe and art shops make it a pleasure to bring the family along, too.” Yankee Magazine, which was founded in 1935 and is based in Dublin, N.H., agreed, and the list may be found in the regional magazine’s January-February issue, which is on sale now.

Shilliday said she is also thrilled that The Montague Bookmill is in such good company.

The other four bookstores are located in Franklin (Shire Book Shop), Woodstock, Vt. (Pleasant Street Books), North Hampton, N.H. (Drake Farm Books), and Niantic, Conn. (The Book Barn).

Wright said he would recommend The Montague Bookmill and the four others to anyone who has a serious interest in books and bookstores.

He also comments regularly on his blog about the fate of rural bookstores and his findings as he visits them.

According to Yankee, Wright made the selections for the magazine.

The Montague Bookmill is located at 440 Greenfield Road in Montague. For more information, call the bookstore at 413-367-9206 or visit: www. montaguebookmill.com.

Visit Wright’s Web site at: www.guidetonewenglandbookstores. com.

Visit Yankee Magazine at: www.yankeemagazine.com.

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