Word New York

Image by Geoffrey Dunbar

Word – Bookstore in Sugar Hill, Harlem

A bookstore/library specializing in African-American and Black culture with an emphasis on the arts and politics; upstairs, the Jumel Terrace Bed and Breakfast Inn, neither of which advertises except via its informative website. It’s hard to pin down exactly what this place is. I think that’s by design, making it all the more attractive.

It’s across the street from the Jumel mansion and Sylvan Terrace — a row of 1882 wood frame houses arranged along the cobblestone former-driveway to the mansion — and around the corner from 555 Edgecombe, home of Marjorie Elliot, and former home to Joe Louis, Paul Robeson, Count Basie and others.

This fascinating, almost puzzling ‘business’ I discovered one day just before attending a Marjorie Elliot Jazz Parlour event. Susan and I peered in the window and inside was Kurt Thometz, the proprietor and host of the bookstore which is actually part of his private library. One hesitates to buy a book, out of fear of reducing the quality of his collection. We spent a wonderful 45 minutes chatting and sharing ideas with Mr Thometz that afternoon talking mostly of the black cultural scene and its evolution.

Thometz is a writer, producer, hotelier, host, raconteur, perhaps a boulevardier as well as a provocateur. He is known within literary circles.

One almost wishes to have brought along a thermos of Pimms Cup (or old scotch), to stay refreshed while looking around, and while talking.

Quirky hours of operation—be sure to call ahead. Good hunting!

👉 Nearby spots & navigate offline? Get our iPhone / Android app!

Details about this spot



426 West 160th Street, New York

Telephone number


Opening Times

Appointment, Invitation or Serendipity


Check on Facebook

Last Changed Date: 2016-05-19 11:45:13 +0200 (Thu, 19 May 2016)