In the mid-nineteenth century, the book publisher Ticknor and Fields operated out of the Old Corner Bookstore. Ticknor and Fields is well-known for producing works written by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and Ralph Waldo Emerson, among others. These men and women were also frequent visitors to the bookstore and publishing company, so often that the corner was nicknamed Parnassus Corner. In Greek mythology, Mount Parnassus was home to the nine muses of Greek mythology and a place full of poetry, music, and learning.
Ticknor and Fields operated out of the building until 1903. Two decades earlier (1880), they had merged with another publishing company, Houghton and Mifflin (now Houghton, Mifflin Harcourt) and soon needed more room for their expanding business. After their departure, a series of other small businesses occupied the real estate. In 1960, downtown Boston was undergoing significant revitalization. One of the projects included demolishing the old bookstore to turn the site into a parking garage. A group of leading Bostonians did not want to see the historic building destroyed, so they formed Historic Boston Incorporated, lobbied to save the building, and eventually purchased it for preservation.
A green sign on the building's exterior reads:
“The Old Corner Bookstore
Thomas Crease built this structure as his apothecary and
residence shortly after the great fire of 1711 destroyed Anne Hutchinson’s
house on this site. Timothy Carter
opened the Old Corner Bookstore here in 1829.
Between 1845 and 1865, the booksellers Ticknor and Fields established
the building’s lasting literacy significance as the publishers of Hawthorne,
Longfellow, Stowe, Emerson, Thoreau and other prominent American and British
authors, who often gathered here.
In 1960, civic leaders raised money and established Historic
Boston Incorporated to acquire and preserve this site.”