Giovanni's Room Bookstore

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Giovanni's Room Bookstore
United States
Historic Bookstore
Giovanni's Room Bookstore is located in Philadelphia
Giovanni's Room Bookstore
Location345 S. 12th Street
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19107
Coordinates39°56′42″N 75°09′41″W / 39.94501°N 75.16128°W / 39.94501; -75.16128 (Giovanni's Room)
PHMC dedicatedOctober 15, 2011

Giovanni's Room Bookstore is a gay bookstore in Philadelphia. It is the oldest gay bookstore in the United States still operating and has been called the "center of gay Philly".[1] Founded in 1973 in Philadelphia, Giovanni's Room Bookstore is named after James Baldwin's gay novel Giovanni's Room. Philly AIDS Thrift took over the store after the owner retired in 2014 and the bookstore is now called Philly AIDS Thrift at Giovanni's Room, also known as PAT @ Giovanni's Room.[2][3][4]


Giovanni's Room Bookstore is located on the corner of 12th and Pine Street in Philadelphia's gayborhood. The main building was built in 1820, and the second building, which became part of the store several years after the store opened, was built in the 1880s. The store was originally located on South Street and changed locations often in its first few years. It has been at 345 South 12th Street since 1979.[5]


Giovanni's Room Historical Marker

In 1973 three Gay Activist Alliance (GAA) members, Tom Wilson Weinberg, Dan Sherbo and Bern Boyle, opened Giovanni's Room at 232 South Street.[5] The store was closed shortly afterward due to a homophobic landlord. The store changed hands to lesbian activist Pat Hill in 1974 and then to Ed Hermance and Arleen Oshan in 1976.[5] Hermance and Olshan moved the store first to 1426 Spruce Street and then to its final location on 12th and Pine in 1979.[1] Olshan left the partnership in 1984.

The Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission unveiled a marker on Sunday, October 15, 2011, to commemorate the location of Giovanni’s Room, as it is the country's first LGBT bookstore still operating.[6][7]

In April 2014 the store's owner of 38 years, Ed Hermance, announced his retirement plans and closed the store on May 17, 2014.[8][1] He soon after made an agreement with Philly AIDS Thrift and they reopened the store as its proprietor that fall.


  1. ^ a b c Gillespie, Tyler (21 May 2014). "The Last Day at Giovanni's Room, America's Oldest Gay Bookstore". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 26 June 2014.
  2. ^ Connie Wu (July 25, 2014). "Nation's Oldest LGBT Bookstore Rescued from Closing". OutTraveler.
  3. ^ "Oldest US Gay Bookstore to Reopen in Philadelphia - ABC News". ABC News. Archived from the original on 2014-08-27. Retrieved 2020-06-28.
  4. ^ "EPGN". 18 September 2014. Retrieved 2020-03-30.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  5. ^ a b c "Giovanni's Room records, circa 1975–1991" (PDF). John J. Wilcox, Jr. LGBT Archives. July 19, 2019.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  6. ^ Schechner, Karen. "Giovanni's Room Honored With Historical Marker". American Booksellers Association. Archived from the original on 29 April 2014. Retrieved 28 April 2014.
  7. ^ "William Penn's Legacy, PHMC 2010–2011 Annual Report" (PDF). Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission. Archived from the original (PDF) on 30 July 2014. Retrieved 26 June 2014.
  8. ^ Thomas, Angela. "Giovanni's Room to close next month". Philadelphia Gay News. Archived from the original on 2 July 2014. Retrieved 28 April 2014.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 39°56′43″N 75°09′40″W / 39.9452°N 75.1612°W / 39.9452; -75.1612