Old Corner Bookstore

The Old Corner Bookstore is a historic building in the center of Boston, Massachusetts. It is located at the corner of Washington and School Streets, along the Freedom Trail of revolutionary and early American historic sites.

History

The site was formerly the home of Anne Hutchinson, who was expelled from Massachusetts in 1638 for heresy.

The building itself was constructed in 1712 by Thomas Crease as a residence and apothecary shop. 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 nineteenth 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 section 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.

Preservation

Threatened with demolition in 1960, the building was "rescued" through a purchase by Historic Boston, Inc. for the sum of $100,000. Historic Boston Incorporated is a not-for-profit preservation and real estate organization that rehabilitates historic and culturally significant properties in Boston’s neighborhoods so they are a usable part of the city’s present and future. In recent times, its retail space has held a branch of the Globe Corner Bookstore (a division of the Old Corner Bookstore Inc.), which operated there from 1982 to 1997 and specializes in travel books & maps. A Boston Globe company store operated in the building from 1998 through 2002, selling Boston Globe products and tourist memorabilia. A national discount jewelry chain, Ultra Diamonds, occupied the retail space from 2005 until the company's bankruptcy in 2009. The retail space is presently (2010) vacant. The building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is Boston Landmark under the auspices of the Boston Landmarks Commission.

Image gallery
  • Advertisement for Carter & Hendee, 1832

  • American Magazine of Useful and Entertaining Knowledge, v.3, 1837 (published by John L. Sibley, William D. Ticknor)

  • Scott's Guy Mannering, published by Samuel H. Parker, 1838

  • Portrait of Fields, Hawthorne, and Ticknor, 1860s

  • Advertisement for A. Williams & Co., 1872

  • A. Williams & Co., 19th c.

  • ca.19th-20th c.

  • ca.1904

Tenants
Tenants of no.76 Cornhill
  • 1712
    • Thomas Crease
  • 1789
    • Herman Brimmer, merchant
    • John Jackson, broker
    • 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)
    • H.O. Houghton & Co.
  • 1869
    • A. Williams & Co. (Alexander Williams)

Building Activity

  • OpenBuildings
    OpenBuildings updated a digital reference
    about 5 years ago via Annotator
  • OpenBuildings
    OpenBuildings updated a digital reference and added a digital reference
    about 5 years ago via OpenBuildings.com