News & Updates

BPDA Remembers Historic Boston Bookstore

May 04, 2018

The Boston Planning & Development Agency (BPDA) is helping to commemorate the 300th anniversary of the historic Old Corner Bookstore with the donation of a plaque, dated 1930, that once marked the exterior of the site. The plaque was first loaned from the former Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA) to the Bostonian Society in 1963. However, due to storage constraints, it was returned to the BPDA earlier this year and added to the BPDA Archives.

The inscription reads, “On this side stood the house of Anne Hutchinson, a religious leader, brilliant, fearless, unfortunate; banished to Rhode Island 1637, killed by Indians 1643. The Old Corner Book Store which was for many years the center of literary life of Boston formerly occupied this site.” The BPDA is working with the site’s current owners, Historic Boston, Inc., to redisplay the sign with the hopes to increase public awareness to the building’s historical role.

The Old Corner Store, located at the intersection of School and Washington Streets, currently houses a Chipotle restaurant after being saved from demolition in 1960 and restored by Historic Boston, Inc. As the sign indicates, the store sits upon the site of the house of Anne Hutchinson, one of the earliest figures of religious freedom in the United States and founder of Portsmouth, Rhode Island. Built in 1718, the Bookstore is the oldest commercial building in Boston. The building also played a critical role as the center of American literature, with publishers Ticknor and Fields responsible for the publishing of works of renowned New England authors such as Harriet Beecher Stowe, Nathaniel Hawthorne and Ralph Waldo Emerson.

The building is a stop on the Freedom Trail, listed on the National Register of Historic Places and recognized by the Boston Landmarks Commission as an official Boston Landmark. Currently, the building has an informational sign by the Bostonian Society, but no original signage exists.

The plaque’s return represents the BPDA’s commitment to the preservation and celebration of the history of our city for future generations.

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