The Oldest Book Store in America (and Possibly the World) Is Also Haunted

While print is far from dead, it’s still a tough time to be an independent bookstore. Fortunately, the Moravian Book Shop in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania knows a thing or two about staying power. The store has been open since 1745. That 271-year running streak makes it the oldest bookstore in America, and as The Guardian reports, possibly the oldest continuously operating one in the entire world.

Scotland’s John Smith & Son used to claim those titles, but it closed in 2000 (and reportedly opened in 1751). The Bertrand Bookstore in Lisbon, Portugal also may have a claim to the record, but the store, which opened in 1732, is no longer in its original location, which was destroyed by an earthquake in 1755.

The Moravian Book Shop has also seen some location (and name) changes in its time. It went by the name Bethelhemer Bücher Shop for a while and moved to Philadelphia for two years in 1856. The shop returned to Bethlehem in 1858, and first occupied its current location in 1867, adopting the current name in 1905.

In addition to having a lot of things bigger bookstores do not (like a curated gift shop and indie press titles), the Moravian also reportedly has a resident ghost. The shop’s employees have reported seeing the specter, and they hold annual ghost tours, featuring several spooky landmarks in the historic town. Sites like a pre-Revolutionary War cemetery called God’s Acre, the 18th century Sun Inn, the Hotel Bethlehem, and others have all been the site of reported hauntings throughout the years.

Moravian Book Shop employee Jane Clugston relayed the following story to The Guardian on the store’s live-in spirit:

She told me that one night, while closing the store with a fellow employee, she saw a dark figure in a back hallway of the store, going into the kitchen. She and the coworker followed the figure back. Then, she says she realized the back kitchen stove was on, as well as the fan.

“I don’t know why this person, ghost, spirit drew us back there, but I guess to turn off those appliances,” says Clugston. “I’d never thought of it until I told someone else and they said a ghost led you back there. But in that back hallway a lot of people have said that they’ve felt things and they’ve seen things.”

[h/t The Guardian]

Looking to Downsize? You Can Buy a 5-Room DIY Cabin on Amazon for Less Than $33,000

Five rooms of one's own.
Five rooms of one's own.
Allwood/Amazon

If you’ve already mastered DIY houses for birds and dogs, maybe it’s time you built one for yourself.

As Simplemost reports, there are a number of house kits that you can order on Amazon, and the Allwood Avalon Cabin Kit is one of the quaintest—and, at $32,990, most affordable—options. The 540-square-foot structure has enough space for a kitchen, a bathroom, a bedroom, and a sitting room—and there’s an additional 218-square-foot loft with the potential to be the coziest reading nook of all time.

You can opt for three larger rooms if you're willing to skip the kitchen and bathroom.Allwood/Amazon

The construction process might not be a great idea for someone who’s never picked up a hammer, but you don’t need an architectural degree to tackle it. Step-by-step instructions and all materials are included, so it’s a little like a high-level IKEA project. According to the Amazon listing, it takes two adults about a week to complete. Since the Nordic wood walls are reinforced with steel rods, the house can withstand winds up to 120 mph, and you can pay an extra $1000 to upgrade from double-glass windows and doors to triple-glass for added fortification.

Sadly, the cool ceiling lamp is not included.Allwood/Amazon

Though everything you need for the shell of the house comes in the kit, you will need to purchase whatever goes inside it: toilet, shower, sink, stove, insulation, and all other furnishings. You can also customize the blueprint to fit your own plans for the space; maybe, for example, you’re going to use the house as a small event venue, and you’d rather have two or three large, airy rooms and no kitchen or bedroom.

Intrigued? Find out more here.

[h/t Simplemost]

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Wisconsin Corn Maze Highlights the Tardigrade—"The World's Most Resilient Animal"

Treinen Farm
Treinen Farm

On some farms, designing a corn maze is a chance to create larger-than-life art. There have been mazes modeled after flags, dinosaurs, and video game characters—but this tardigrade corn maze, spotted by Atlas Obscura, may be a first.

Tardigrades—also called "moss piglets" or "water bears"—are microscopic organisms that thrive in a variety of environments around the world. Real tardigrades are too small to see with the naked eye, but that's certainly not the case with the tardigrade maze at Treinen Farm; from the air, it's impossible to miss.

Angie Treinen owns the Wisconsin farm with her husband, and she was inspired to design a maze in the image of the tardigrade after learning about them at a science event a few years ago. Like much of the internet, she was instantly smitten with their stubby legs and roly-poly bodies. They also turned out to be the perfect mascot for 2020; water bears are some of the most resilient creatures on Earth, surviving in tundras, at the bottom of the ocean, and even in space.

"I think I stumbled upon the idea to do a tardigrade pretty early on, but I rejected it for a long time," Angie wrote on the farm's website. "As a huge nerd, I’d seen water bears at an event at the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery, and I thought they were fascinating and amazing and exactly what we needed: tiny, adorable, unbelievably tough."

The tardigrade corn maze took 120 to 150 hours to cut and covers 15 acres. Guests can experience the maze in person at Treinen Farm now through November 8, 2020.

[h/t Atlas Obscura]