From the Chicago Tribune:
When Barnes & Noble closed its bookstore in the Town Square Wheaton mall for good Thursday, it was not without historical significance.
The national bookstore chain, which chose not to renew its Wheaton store’s lease after almost 18 years in business, had its origins in the western suburb more than 135 years ago, according to historians and representatives of the company.
Charles M. Barnes started a bookselling business from his home near Wheaton College in 1873, said Mary Anne Phemister, a Wheaton author who has written extensively on the city’s history. An alumnus of Knox College in downstate Galesburg and an ordained minister, Barnes came to Wheaton to follow his teacher and mentor, Wheaton College President Jonathan Blanchard, who had been Knox’s president.
“Living in a small college town, Barnes got the idea of redistributing and selling his own books, and then his own personal library formed the nucleus of his business,” Phemister said. “The rest is history.”
Continuing his father’s enterprise, Barnes’ son, William, later went to New York City and eventually co-founded the company’s first actual bookstore with his partner, G. Clifford Noble, on 5th Avenue in Manhattan in 1917. Barnes & Noble began to expand significantly in the 1970s, and by the early 1990s, the chain’s chairman and chief executive officer, Leonard Riggio, chose Wheaton as the location for the company’s first store in Illinois.