Minneapolis SF Bookstore Burned, Another Vandalized

Two Minneapolis science fiction landmarks were caught up in the wave of vandalism that struck the city amid protests against the death of George Floyd. Don Blyly’s Uncle Hugo’s bookstore has been burned, and Greg Ketter’s DreamHaven was broken into and damaged.

Uncle Hugo’s and Uncle Edgar’s in 2010.

Uncle Hugo’s, in business since 1974, and neighboring mystery bookstore Uncle Edgar’s since 1980 (also burned), are located near the corner of Lake and Chicago, Uncle Hugo’s is the nation’s oldest surviving sf bookstore.  

Owner Don Blyly told Facebook followers:

Friends: I’ve gone past heartsick into angry. This is from Don this morning: Hi Folks,
There was a call from the security company around 3:30 this morning that the motion detector was showing somebody in the building. I threw on clothes and headed over there. When I was 2 blocks away I received a call that the smoke detectors were showing smoke in the store. Every single building on both sides of Chicago was blazing and dozens of people dancing around. As I pulled into the dentist’s lot I could see that flames were leaping out the front windows of the Uncles. It looked to me like they had broken every window on the front of the Uncles and then squirted accelerant through each broken window. It looked hopeless to me, but I went around to the back door to see if I could get to a fire extinguisher. As soon as I opened the back door a wave of very thick black smoke poured out, so I quickly closed the door again… Since Chicago Ave. was full of dancing rioters, broken glass, and flaming debris, I went down the alley and took Lake St. home. There were blocks of Lake St. where every building was blazing. No sign of any cops, national guard troops, or any help.

I’m pretty sure the insurance policy excludes damage from a civil insurrection, so I suspect I won’t get a cent for either the building or the contents.

I am starting to investigate the best crowdsourcing to rebuild. Any donations – well – I’ll need to find where to send them

Located about two miles away, Greg Ketter’s Dreamhaven Books, Comics and Art was vandalized but not destroyed. Glass was broken and bookcases turned over. 

DreamHaven last night.

DreamHaven’s Wendy Comeau said on Facebook:

We have a crew at DreamHaven. They smashed the front door, came in and smashed a lot of other glass, tried to bash their way into an empty cash box, and tried to set the store on fire. They took a few things, but so much was tossed around that it will be a while before we can figure it out.

Lots of cleaning is happening, glass slivers are everywhere. If anybody nearby has an industrial vacuum cleaner, that might be good for glass slivers.

Right now, we’re trying to get some cleaning done and not answering the phone, but feel free to swing by and chip in. Many thanks to everybody who already have.

DreamHaven boarded up. Photo by Oliver Grudem.

[Thanks to Joyce Scrivner and Joe Sherry for the story.]

14 thoughts on “Minneapolis SF Bookstore Burned, Another Vandalized

  1. The “Uncle Hugo’s” GoFund being run by a guy in NJ is UNAUTHORIZED. Don’t donate, please.

  2. THe gentleman that started it just announced that it was paused while the owner looked into doing one.
    But from what I could see, he did it out of a love for books and this particular store.

  3. Brinn shopped and sold at both places. If a legit Go Fund me is set up I’ll be donating!

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  5. This is a punch in the gut. I first went to the Twin Cities in the winter of ’75-’76 as an Iowa State engineering co-op student working for 3M. My older sister Pat was also co-opping then; we shared an apartment on the east side of St. Paul. She’d been to Uncle Hugo’s at least once already. I’m not sure we made it to the store during that session, but I know I got there by myself some time in the fall of ’76. Kept riding the buses crosstown every now and then during my remaining co-op sessions, attended Minicon in ’78. After I graduated in ’79 I’d only get to the Uncles once a year, sometime over the Easter weekend, but it was a major event in my book-buying year. I last attended Minicon/hit the Uncles in 2004, but have done occasional mail orders since. I’ll be looking for info on any legit fundraising effort that gets put together; I owe Don for years of great and patient customer service and shelves full of books I love.

  6. My visits to the Uncles had tapered off over the years as I switched to reading primarily eBooks, but I still tried to get there periodically and they were still a huge part of my genre life. At a rough guess, 60-70% of what’s on my shelves was originally on their shelves. When the time comes, I’ll happily done money and/or books.

  7. Uncle Hugo’s used to sponsor Doctor Who on the local PBS, that’s how I first heard about it. My first fender-bender was in a nearby parking lot one icy Minnesota winter. I moved away long ago, but when I’d return to visit family & friends, I’d always make a pit-stop & purchase at Uncle Hugo’s.

    Naturally I didn’t know George Floyd. But my Twin Cities are diminished immeasurably by his death & its circumstances, including the loss of this cultural institution. RIP.

  8. Damn. Living 700 miles from Minneapolis made my trips to Uncle Hugo’s and Dreamhaven few and far between, but anytime I was in the area they were a must. Please let us know when the official fund drives are opened.

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