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Old Corner Bookstore

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Title: Old Corner Bookstore  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Anne Hutchinson, Boston Latin School, Old South Meeting House, Freedom Trail, James Thomas Fields, Washington Street (Boston), William Ticknor
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Old Corner Bookstore

Old Corner Bookstore
The Old Corner Bookstore in 2008, then occupied by Ultra Diamonds.
Old Corner Bookstore
Location Boston, Massachusetts

42°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

Built 1712
Architect Unknown
Architectural style No Style Listed
Governing body Private
NRHP Reference #


Added to NRHP April 11, 1973

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.


The site was formerly the home of Anne Hutchinson, who was expelled from Massachusetts in 1638 for heresy.[2] Thomas Crease purchased the home in 1708, though it burned down in the Great Boston Fire on October 2, 1711.[3]

Crease constructed a new building on the site in 1712 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.[3]

The building's first use as a bookstore dates to 1828, when Timothy Harrington Carter leased the space 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.[3]

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.[4] 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.[5] 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.[6] 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.[7]


Threatened with demolition in 1960, the building was "rescued" through a purchase by Historic Boston, Inc. for the sum of $100,000.[8] Historic Boston 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. The building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is Boston Landmark under the auspices of the Boston Landmarks Commission.

Recent tenants

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 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.

The building is now recognized as a site on Boston's Freedom Trail, Literary Trail, and Women's Heritage Trail.[9]

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.


Historical tenants

Tenants of no.76 Cornhill

  • 1712: Thomas Crease[10]
  • 1789: Herman Brimmer, merchant,[11] John Jackson, broker[11] and Samuel Thayer and Minott Thayer, shopkeepers[12]
  • 1807: John West[13]
  • 1817: Dr. Samuel Clarke, apothecary[14][15]

Tenants of 135 Washington Street


Further reading

  • 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.

External links

  • 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
    • 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
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
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