Old Corner Bookstore

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Old Corner Bookstore
Old Corner Bookstore is located in Boston
Old Corner Bookstore
Old Corner Bookstore is located in Massachusetts
Old Corner Bookstore
Location283 Washington Street
Boston, Massachusetts
Coordinates42°21′27″N 71°3′32″W / 42.35750°N 71.05889°W / 42.35750; -71.05889Coordinates: 42°21′27″N 71°3′32″W / 42.35750°N 71.05889°W / 42.35750; -71.05889
NRHP reference #73000322[1]
Added to NRHPApril 11, 1973

The Old Corner Bookstore is a historic commercial building located at 283 Washington Street at the corner of School Street in the historic core of Boston, Massachusetts. It was built in 1718 as a residence and apothecary shop, and first became a bookstore in 1828. The building is a designated site on Boston's Freedom Trail, Literary Trail, and Women's Heritage Trail.[4]

The Old Corner Bookstore was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973.

This building is currently under consideration for Boston Landmark status by the Boston Landmarks Commission.


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.[5] Thomas Crease purchased the home in 1708, though it burned down in the Great Boston Fire on October 2, 1711.[6] Crease constructed a new building on the site in 1718[3] 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.[6]

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.[6]

Corner Bookstore building, 19th century

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.[7] 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.[8] 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.[9] 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.[10]


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.[11] 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.



Henry Oscar Houghton, 19th century

Tenants of 76 Cornhill[edit]

  • 1718: Thomas Crease[12]
  • 1789: Herman Brimmer, merchant,[13] John Jackson, broker[13] and Samuel Thayer and Minott Thayer, shopkeepers[14]
  • 1807: John West[15]
  • 1817: Dr. Samuel Clarke, apothecary[16][17]

Tenants of 135 Washington Street[edit]


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.

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.


See also[edit]



  1. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. April 15, 2008.
  2. ^ "Old Corner Bookstore" - The Freedom Trail Foundation
  3. ^ a b "Old Corner Bookstore" - Historic Boston Incorporated
  4. ^ 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
  5. ^ Old Corner Bookstore Building | Museum/Attraction Review | Boston | Frommers.com
  6. ^ a b c 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
  7. ^ 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
  8. ^ 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
  9. ^ Tryon, Warren S. Parnassus Corner: A Life of James T. Fields, Publisher to the Victorians. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1963: 279.
  10. ^ "On the News-Stands." Printers' Ink, v.18, no.13, March 31, 1897.
  11. ^ Old Corner Bookstore Buildings Archived 2007-08-06 at the Wayback Machine
  12. ^ 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
  13. ^ a b Boston Directory. 1789
  14. ^ Boston Directory. 1789, 1807
  15. ^ Monthly Anthology, June 1807
  16. ^ Henry Jenks. Old School Street. New England Magazine, Nov. 1895
  17. ^ Boston Directory. 1823
  18. ^ Boston medical and surgical journal, May 19, 1829
  19. ^ a b c Shurtleff. 1871
  20. ^ Boston medical and surgical journal, March 17, 1829
  21. ^ North American Review, v.30, 1830
  22. ^ Scott. Waverley Novels, v.3. Boston: Parker, 1838
  23. ^ a b Boston Almanac. 1841
  24. ^ Freemasons Monthly Magazine. 1844
  25. ^ Boston Almanac. 1847
  26. ^ Boston Directory. 1849
  27. ^ a b Boston Directory. 1868
  28. ^ Boston Almanac. 1871
  29. ^ Boston medical and surgical journal. 1872

Further reading

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Site of the first public school, Boston Latin School
Locations along Boston's Freedom Trail
Old Corner Bookstore
Succeeded by
Old South Meeting House