by Terry Ambrose
To much of the world, she’s known as Linda Hein, part owner of Hein & Company Bookstore. But, to those involved with the world of Baker Street West, she’s Mrs. Hudson. This alter ego began when Linda met with her girlfriend, Beth Barnard, for lunch to discuss the Sherlock Holmes stories. These days, Baker Street West is located in the Baker Street Shoppes, which offer a unique Victorian shopping experience, but it wasn’t always that way.
Beginnings of Baker Street West
“At a particular point in time, we were reading Laurie R. King and Carole Nelson Douglas pastiches. It was in the spring of 2013 that I suggested to Beth that we ask my husband, Wolf Hein, for space in my husband’s and my bookstore, Hein & Company Bookstore in Jackson, California, to recreate 221B Baker Street. We hoped we could meet at an authentic Sherlockian venue instead of at a restaurant. Of course, my husband said no. I said, “Well, ‘No’ is a good place to start,’ and with that beginning, and our intention to create something unique, we now find ourselves with thousands of square feet of Sherlockian heaven which we call Baker Street West.”
Linda added that everyone is involved with Baker Street West because of their deep passion for the Victorian era, the vast and rich nature of the Sherlock Holmes stories, and for their own enjoyment and entertainment. “We stay in the business because of our stellar guests and customers and also because each and every day gives us an opportunity to be creative and to learn something new.”
Baker Street West and its volunteers
Baker Street West has been a non-profit organization since October of 2019. It is staffed by volunteers and has a board of directors. The Board of Directors, as well as all other facets of Baker Street West, is composed of characters from the Sherlockian stories.
Those characters include Irene Adler (A Scandal in Bohemia), President; Mrs. Hudson (from at least 14 of the Sherlock Holmes stories),Treasurer; Mary Morstan (The Sign of Four), Vice President; Elsie Cubitt (The Dancing Men), Secretary; and Inspector Lestrade (from many of the Sherlock Holmes stories), Member at Large.
“Our Sherlock Holmes Society, Holmes’ Hounds, has approximately 65 members who all hold a name of one of the characters from the stories. The Docents who give tours of 221B Baker Street and Victoria Square all do so under the guise of one of the characters from the stories. Also, Baker Street Players, our theatre company, has a membership of approximately 40 ‘Players.’ Although they don’t all have a specific character’s name from the stories, the Players play Sherlockian parts in almost every production. And off stage, many of the cast and crew have been given their own nicknames.”
Dealing with a pandemic
“Unfortunately, Baker Street West, under California guidelines, had to close in the middle of March of 2020. It did not reopen until Labor Day weekend and only operates on a limited basis ~ BSW is open for tours between the hours of 10–4 on Saturdays and Sundays. In order to comply with guidelines and yet remain viable, we have begun to produce podcasts and to offer small group affairs, such as Consultations with Mr. Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson.”
Consultations for concerning conundrums
Recently, Baker Street West invited the general public to solicit Mr. Sherlock Holmes with problems or conundrums that may be afflicting their lives.
Mrs. Hudson said, “Mr. Holmes guarantees a solution, but the problem must be interesting enough for him to grant an in-person interview. Most recently, he has solved The Great Minion Caper, The Family Manor Phantasm, and the Mystery of the Asiatic Box. Perhaps you and your family and/or friends have a compelling situation to bring to Mr. Holmes’ attention? Contact Mrs. Hudson at 209–223–2215, and she will give you details on how to gain The Master’s Audience.”
For those who are still concerned with meeting Mr. Holmes in person, Mrs. Hudson has another option. “Mr. Holmes’ also will respond to ‘Letters to Sherlock Holmes,’ which does not require an in-person conference, but you become his client by mail.”
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