For two years, the storefront on Vermont Avenue that housed Chatterton's bookstore, beloved in Los Feliz for its vast collection of beat poetry and obscure books, lay fallow.
The store closed shortly after its owner, William Koki Iwamoto, died in the summer of 1994.
It remained empty until a dozen local residents--ranging from television stars to a retired high school English teacher from Chicago--pooled their money to bring a bookstore back to the hip Los Feliz drag.
Last week, the doors opened to the Skylight Bookstore, named for the small theater located in the back of the store as well as the windows in the shop's unusual domed ceiling.
"We're so excited," said Kerry Slattery, general manager of the store. Skylight Bookstore has a strong focus on literature, film and theater, thanks to the store's book buyer, Tim Morrell, who had spent the last 10 years at Samuel French, which specializes in performing arts books.
Charles Hauther, the assistant manager, is a holdover from the store's Chatterton's days. The bespectacled book enthusiast worked there for five years until it closed. "It's really great for me. I'm very picky about where I work."
Hauther is especially interested in promoting new fiction writers and building strong sections of books dealing with social criticism and information on drugs.
For younger readers, Nancy Cartwright, who does the voice of Bart on "The Simpsons" TV show, has offered to help by organizing storytelling sessions.
Among those who were involved in opening the bookstore were actors Tony Danza and Jeffrey Tambor, the owners of the Dresden Room, a restaurant and bar on Vermont known for its lounge singers, and the acting teacher who sets up shop at the theater behind the store.
The bookstore is planning a grand opening celebration during the Thanksgiving weekend. Writers John Rechy, Wanda Coleman and James Ragan are a few of the writers who will be appearing at the bookstore.
"I think it's a great idea to reopen the bookstore," Victor Toledo, 29, said as he whipped up a cafe latte for a customer at the Onyx Sequel coffeehouse, located about half a block down from Skylight. "It'll expand our minds."