The name might suggest a place to pick up an old, out-of-print copy of your favorite classic, but as you arrive at the Old Corner Bookstore, don't let the lack of books disappoint you. After all, you're at the place where some of the most cherished American authors have breathed and gathered inspiration: wind back the clock some hundred and fifty years and your visit here might have led to an encounter with Nathaniel Hawthorne or Ralph Waldo Emerson. They were frequent visitors at this School Street address, along with other now well-know writers such as Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Oliver Wendell Holmes, and Louisa May Alcott. The Old Corner Bookstore also housed the print shop where their work was published, and ended up a gathering place of many influential literary Americans.
As one of the city's oldest structures, the Old Corner Bookstore is located along the Freedom Trail, about a block south of the Old State House. In early 2010, its latest tenant closed down business and left the building vacant – today you're left to admiring its exterior. Despite its telling name, it wasn't even a bookstore when first erected in 1712, but an apothecary, with the attached home and office of doctor Thomas Crease. Crease had decided to build at the site of Puritan dissenter Anne Hutchinson's former home, where controversial and groundbreaking religious meetings were held in the mid-1600s. Obliterated in a fire in 1711, the available spot left Crease the perfect location in the center of Boston to build and run his business.
For almost 100 years – from 1828 until 1903 – the building served as a print and bookshop, maintained through the years by various owners. During its heyday, it was home to the country's leading publisher, Ticknor and Fields. The building was threatened with demolition in 1960, but was rescued by Historic Boston, Inc. and restored with a 19th century appearance. In the early 1980s, and for the following couple of decades, it was once again home to book stores run by different proprietors.
- Subway Stop:
- Take the orange or blue "T" to State Street. As you get of the train, follow the signs for "Old State House". Or, take the green line to Government Center, and follow Court Street one block to State Street. You can also take the red line to Downtown Crossing, then walk Washington Street (toward City Hall) to State Street.
- Location: 3 School Street, Boston, MA (Please note that there's no museum or visitors center at the Old Corner Bookstore.)
- The Freedom Trail Foundation: 617-357-8300