Andover Townsman, Andover, MA


December 16, 2010

Independent Andover Bookstore remains a rare business

To many people, the Andover Bookstore, located downtown off Main Street, is truly more than just a bookstore. While it has changed throughout the centuries, it remains an important part of Andover's academic and intellectual legacy.

Founded in 1809 by Mark Newman, the Andover Bookstore is the oldest operating business in Andover and the second oldest bookstore in the nation. It was originally located on the Andover Theological Seminary campus. Newman resigned as the principal of Phillips Academy to become the primary bookseller for the seminary and the academy. In 1813, Dr. Eliphalet Pearson moved Andover's printing press, acquired in 1798, onto the second floor of Newman's bookstore. Timothy Flagg and Abraham J. Gould were the primary operators of the press until 1832. Before Flagg died in 1831, the bookstore and the printing press moved to the Brick House, where Newman's son Mark H. Newman continued his father's bookselling business. Warren F. Draper purchased the bookstore in 1854.

A large part of the bookstore's success was due to textbook sales to students of the seminary, Abbot Academy, the Punchard Free School, and Phillips Academy. In the late 1860s, the store moved off the seminary's campus to 37 Main St., but its connection to the students remained.

Ownership changed again in 1887 and John N. Cole became the store's business manager. Utilizing the store's printing press, Cole and his associates began publication of the Andover Townsman. Thriving under his leadership, Cole moved the press and printing business out of the bookstore. As with the original family owners, Cole's son, Philip P. Cole, took over the store following the death of his father.

In 1960, Jerome and Ethel Cross purchased the bookstore, giving it a new life and a new location. While Cross sold coal and oil for profit, selling books was his passion. "You have to be a little patient," Mrs. Cross remembers, "book buying is contagious." The couple renovated an old barn at 89R Main St. making it an ideal setting for the beloved bookstore—cozy and inviting, with thousands of titles that could occupy a reader for hours.

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