The oldest commercial building in Boston, the Old Corner Bookstore was built in 1718 as an apothecary shop and home on property that once belonged to Puritan dissident Anne Hutchinson.
The Old Corner Bookstore was the center of American book publishing in the mid-1800s when Boston was the country's literary mecca. From this place, publishers Ticknor and Fields produced the works of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Ralph Waldo Emerson, John Greenleaf Whittier, Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr., and Louisa May Alcott, many of whom were frequent visitors to the building.
During the bookstore’s heyday, the corner of School and Washington Streets came to be known as "Parnassus Corner," a reference to the mountain home of the nine muses of Greek mythology.
Scheduled to be demolished for a parking garage in 1960, Bostonians rallied to buy the property and restore it. Historic Boston, Inc. currently owns the building.
RELIGIOUS FREEDOM Anne Hutchinson lived on this spot during the time when she became a controversial religious leader. She held weekly scripture readings in her home that were attended by as many as 80 people, one-tenth of the population of Boston at the time. Charged with heresy for her unlicensed preaching, Hutchinson was excommunicated and exiled to Rhode Island in 1638, where she founded the town of Portsmouth.
IRISH IMMIGRATION Across the street from the Old Corner Bookstore is the Irish Famine Memorial. It commemorates "An Gorta Mor" (The Great Hunger), the potato blight brought to Europe on ships from the east coast of America. The wind-born disease devastated the Irish potato crop. Over one million people died of starvation and a million more immigrated to the United States, with the majority of them settling in Boston. To this day, Boston boasts the largest expatriate Irish population in the world.Today, the building is being leased and reused by Chipotle.