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River Arts and Books in Roscoe creates a new hub for the community

River Arts and Books
Posted at 7:31 PM, Jul 08, 2024

ROSCOE — With a population of just 16 people, Roscoe embodies the definition of a small town, with just one business in the area. However, a new nonprofit, River Arts and Books, hopes to bring more opportunities to the community as a bookstore and event space.

Last Friday, the business held a celebration to mark its opening to the public and help raise funds to continue renovating the space.

Caroline Joan Peixoto is the co-founder and director of the River Arts and Books. She moved to Roscoe several years ago and quickly fell in love with the area.

“I wanted to give back to this incredible community in some way. I wanted to create a space where people could go to feel a bit of the magic and beauty of this place and then take it with them,” said Peixoto.

Caroline Joan Peixoto
Caroline Joan Peixoto and her family moved to Roscoe several years ago and opened River Arts and Books to give the community a new place to gather.

Peixoto decided to start the business after meeting Melissa Raphan — who has been coming to the area for over 15 years — and both realized they shared the same dream.

“Somehow in the five minutes that we're talking, she said, 'I want to start a bookstore,' and I said, 'I want to start a bookstore,' so that really sparked the conversation that lasted for about eight months," said Raphan.

They decided to set up the business as a nonprofit.

Melissa Raphan
Melissa Raphan, the co-founder and board chair of River Arts and Books, shows off the logo on the back of the sweatshirts they sell.

“We are off the beaten path and traffic isn't very heavy, so a traditional store would be hard to run," said Peixoto. "We wanted it to be an engaging, nurturing community space, and going the nonprofit route allowed us to have that flexibility, both in obviously fundraising, but in the types of people we would attract and the types of events we'd be able to put on."

The space is not only serving as a bookstore; the building is also divided into an event space and a room that remains to be finished.

Rhema Mangus works for Tippet Rise Art Center in Fishtail and recently joined as a board member for River Arts and Books. She is excited about the new opportunities for artists to create and perform.

“I hope we're able to support artists of all kinds, whether that be a visual artist or primarily perhaps a writer, an artist who works with words, by providing a space for them to reflect and write in our writer's room," said Mangus. “A place like River Arts and Books is a magnet for small communities. It actually creates a space where community can be held, where people can come together, especially in an environment where the Beartooths and the river and the wildlife makes human beings seem so very small."

Rhema Mangus
Rhema Mangus works for Tippet Rise Art Center in Fishtail and is a board member of River Arts and Books.

The books sold are both new and used. Most have been sent to the store as donations from across the state and country. All come with their own life and history, much like the building itself, which has been a part of Roscoe's history, sitting along East Rosebud Creek, for over 100 years.

“This building was built in 1894. It was one of the first homesteads in the area. But after a few years, they started using it as the post office to serve the area, which is why you'll see the original post office sign outside our door,” said Peixoto.

While the inside has been completely renovated, Peixoto made sure to preserve as much of the original look as possible. The building has a new roof but is structurally the same as it was 130 years ago.

Roscoe book store
The building River Arts and Books now occupies was once a post office for the town. The original sign is still preserved on the outside.

Julia Childs has lived right outside of Roscoe for over 84 years and has been a supporter of the new business.

“It's home. It's where I grew up. It's where I went to school," said Childs about Roscoe. “When this started to develop, I was interested in what's happening in Roscoe, and not that much is happening."

The building will continue as a staple in the community for generations to come.

“The idea that people can come into the bookstore and find a book they love and have time to read it, to me, just can't be replicated,” said Raphan.