Old Corner Bookstore
The Old Corner Bookstore in 2008
|NRHP reference #||73000322|
|Added to NRHP||April 11, 1973|
The Old Corner Bookstore is a historic commercial building in the center of Boston, Massachusetts. It is at the corner of Washington and School Streets, along the Freedom Trail of revolutionary and early American historic sites.
The site, situated on what was then part of Cornhill, was formerly the home of Anne Hutchinson, who was expelled from Massachusetts in 1638 for heresy. Thomas Crease purchased the home in 1708, though it burned down in the Great Boston Fire on October 2, 1711. Crease constructed a new building on the site in 1718 as a residence and apothecary shop. For generations, various pharmacists used the site for the same purpose: the first floor was for commercial use and the upper floors were residential. In 1817, Dr. Samuel Clarke, father of future minister James Freeman Clarke, bought the building.
The building's first use as a bookstore dates to 1828, when Timothy Harrington Carter leased the space, whose address had now changed to 135 Washington Street, from a man named George Brimmer. Carter spent $7,000 renovating the building's commercial space, including the addition of projecting, small-paned windows on the ground floor.
From 1832 to 1865, it was home to Ticknor and Fields, a publishing company founded by William Ticknor, later renamed when he partnered with James Thomas Fields. For part of the 19th century, the firm was one of the most important publishing companies in the United States, and the Old Corner Bookstore became a meeting-place for such authors as Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Charles Dickens, and Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. Ticknor and Fields rented out the whole building, using only the corner for a retail space. Other sections of the building, particularly upstairs rooms and storefronts facing School Street, were in turn sublet to other businesses. After the death of Ticknor, Fields wanted to focus on publishing rather than the retail store. On November 12, 1864, he sold the Old Corner Bookstore to E. P. Dutton; Ticknor and Fields moved to Tremont Street. A succession of other publishing houses and booksellers followed Ticknor and Fields in the building.
In keeping with its literary past, in the 1890s the shop carried magazines such as: Arena, Argosy, Army and Navy Journal, Art, Art Amateur, The Atlantic, Black Cat, Bookman, Bradley His Book, Catholic World, The Century Magazine, The Chap-Book, The Church, The Churchman, Current Literature, Donahoe's Magazine, Every Month, Forum, Gunton's Magazine, Harpers Bazaar, Harper's Round Table, Harper's Weekly, Home and Country, Judge, Ladies' Home Journal, Frank Leslie's Popular Monthly, Leslie's Weekly, Life, Lippincott's Monthly Magazine, Munsey's Magazine, The Nation, North American Review, Outing, Pocket Magazine, Poet Lore, Public Opinion, Outlook, Puck, Puritan, Red Letter, Review of Reviews, Scientific American, Scribner's Magazine, Shoppell's, St. Nicholas Magazine, Town Talk, Truth, Vogue, What to Eat, Yale Review, and Youth's Companion.
The building was threatened with demolition and replacement by a parking garage in 1960 and was "rescued" through a purchase by Historic Boston, Inc. for the sum of $100,000. Historic Boston is a not-for-profit preservation and real estate organization that rehabilitates historic and culturally significant properties in Boston’s neighborhoods so that they are a usable part of the city’s present and future. The building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is a Boston Landmark under the auspices of the Boston Landmarks Commission.
In recent times, the Old Corner Bookstore's retail space was the original location of the Globe Corner Bookstore (a division of the Old Corner Bookstore, Inc.), which operated there for 16 years from 1982 to 1997 and specialized in travel books and maps. A Boston Globe company store operated in the building from 1998 through 2002, selling Boston Globe products and tourist memorabilia.
The building is now recognized as a site on Boston's Freedom Trail, Literary Trail, and Women's Heritage Trail.
A national discount jewelry chain, Ultra Diamonds, occupied the retail space from 2005 until the company's bankruptcy in 2009. Then the space was briefly used as a showroom for crafts created by North Bennet Street School students and faculty. The space now houses a Chipotle Mexican Grill restaurant.
American Magazine of Useful and Entertaining Knowledge, v.3, 1837 (published by John L. Sibley, William D. Ticknor)
Sheet music, published by Parker & Ditson, 1839 (illus. by David Claypoole Johnston)
Tenants of 76 Cornhill
- 1718: Thomas Crease
- 1789: Herman Brimmer, merchant, John Jackson, broker and Samuel Thayer and Minott Thayer, shopkeepers
- 1807: John West
- 1817: Dr. Samuel Clarke, apothecary
Tenants of 135 Washington Street
- 1828: Carter & Hendee (Richard B. Carter, Charles J. Hendee)
- 1829: Benjamin Perkins & Co.
- 1830: Gray and Bowen (Frederick T. Gray, Charles Bowen)
- 1833: Allen & Ticknor (John Allen, William D. Ticknor)
- 1838: Samuel H. Parker
- 1840: Parker & Ditson (S.H. Parker, Oliver Ditson)
- 1841: William D. Ticknor
- 1844: Oliver Ditson
- 1847: William D. Ticknor & Co. (Wm. D. Ticknor, John Reed Jr., James T. Fields)
- 1853: Ticknor, Reed, and Fields
- 1854: Ticknor and Fields
- 1868: E.P. Dutton & Co. (Edward Payson Dutton, Charles A. Clapp) and H.O. Houghton & Co.
- 1869: A. Williams & Co. (Alexander Williams)
- National Park Service (2008-04-15). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service.
- "Old Corner Bookstore" - The Freedom Trail Foundation
- "Old Corner Bookstore" - Historic Boston Incorporated
- Old Corner Bookstore Building | Museum/Attraction Review | Boston | Frommers.com
- Wilson, Susan. Boston Sites & Insights: An Essential Guide to Historic Landmarks in and Around Boston. Beacon Press, 2004: 175. ISBN 978-0-8070-7135-9
- Miller, Edwin Haviland. Salem Is My Dwelling Place: A Life of Nathaniel Hawthorne. Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 1991: 281. ISBN 0-87745-332-2
- Winship, Michael. American Literary Publishing in the Mid-Nineteenth Century: The Business of Ticknor and Fields. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1995: 180. ISBN 0-521-45469-7
- Tryon, Warren S. Parnassus Corner: A Life of James T. Fields, Publisher to the Victorians. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1963: 279.
- "On the News-Stands." Printers' Ink, v.18, no.13, March 31, 1897.
- Old Corner Bookstore Buildings Archived 2007-08-06 at the Wayback Machine.
- Wilson, Susan. Boston Sites & Insights: An Essential Guide to Historic Landmarks in and Around Boston. Beacon Press, 2004: 173. ISBN 978-0-8070-7135-9
- Nathaniel Bradstreet Shurtleff. "Old Corner Bookstore." A topographical and historical description of Boston], Part 1, 2nd ed. Boston: Printed by request of the City Council, 1871
- Boston Directory. 1789
- Boston Directory. 1789, 1807
- Monthly Anthology, June 1807
- Henry Jenks. Old School Street. New England Magazine, Nov. 1895
- Boston Directory. 1823
- Boston medical and surgical journal, May 19, 1829
- Shurtleff. 1871
- Boston medical and surgical journal, March 17, 1829
- North American Review, v.30, 1830
- Scott. Waverley Novels, v.3. Boston: Parker, 1838
- Boston Almanac. 1841
- Freemasons Monthly Magazine. 1844
- Boston Almanac. 1847
- Boston Directory. 1849
- Boston Directory. 1868
- Boston Almanac. 1871
- Boston medical and surgical journal. 1872
- Nathaniel Bradstreet Shurtleff. "Old Corner Bookstore." A topographical and historical description of Boston, Part 1, 2nd ed. Boston: Printed by request of the City Council, 1871
- "Old Corner Bookstore", New England Magazine, Nov. 1903.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Old Corner Bookstore.|
- Listing at City of Boston official site
- Official listing on Freedom Trail
- Boston Public Library. Images related to the bookstore, various dates
- Bostonian Society. Photos:
- Old Corner Bookstore, corner of Washington and School Streets, c. 1870-85
- Old Corner Bookstore, corner of School and Washington Streets, c. 1880-85
- Old Corner Bookstore, Washington Street, c. 1884; photo by Boston Camera Club
- Old Corner Bookstore at 283 Washington Street, c. 1890
- Old Corner Bookstore at 283 Washington Street, c. 1900
- Old Corner Bookstore, October 1960
- Old Corner Bookstore at 285 Washington Street, 1964
- Globe Corner Bookstore at 285 Washington Street, c. 1970
Site of the first public school, Boston Latin School
| Locations along Boston's Freedom Trail
Old Corner Bookstore
Old South Meeting House