Two Harvard Square Bookstores To Close

Two longstanding bookstores—the Globe Corner Bookstore and Curious George & Friends—in Harvard Square will close their doors in June, shuttering two of the Square’s most distinctive, unique booksellers.

The Globe Corner store opened in 1982 in Downtown Crossing, but over the years the store has switched locations and has sold books in locations throughout Boston and Cambridge. Patrick W. Carrier, the store’s president, opened a second location on Church Street in Cambridge in 1988, but the store was forced to close in 2005 from the declining travel industry and high rents.

The store reopened on Mt. Auburn Street in 2006.

Globe Corner is currently located at 90 Mt. Auburn St., and Carrier put the store up for sale in November 2010 due to personal health concerns.

The University has served as the Globe Corner’s landlord for the past 24 years and has helped the store to secure retail space around Harvard Square.

“Harvard University has been a tremendous supporter for the Globe Corner Bookstore. We couldn’t have been here all this time without Harvard’s enthusiastic support,” Carrier said. “There are no villains. In the case of the Globe Corner Bookstore, we’ve been here as long as we have because of Harvard.”

Carrier received several offers from potential buyers for the store, but “none met our requirements for selling the business,” he said in a press release.

“We had 29 wonderful years doing this. We and the other people involved in the operation just feel lucky to be able to do it as long as we did,” Carrier said.

While the store is closing, the Globe Corner Bookstore will continue to operate online through its website, according to the press release. But before the store closes its doors permanently, Carrier has put up a world map where customers can mark the places they have used Globe Corner products in a kind of final homage to the store.

Curious George & Friends, located in the heart of Harvard Square at 1 JFK St., opened in 1996 in tribute to Margret and Hans Rey, the couple who were responsible for providing the now iconic illustrations that grace the Curious George books. Owners Hillel J. Stavis and Donna T. Friedman were friends of the couple.

Stavis and Friedman appealed to the Cambridge City Council in May for assistance with keeping the store in business. The owners said they needed $200,000 in donations to stay in business, according to Publishers Weekly.

The owners also ran WordsWorth Books on Brattle Street, which closed in 2004 due to bankruptcy.

Curious George & Friends, originally called Curious George Goes to Wordsworth, offered children’s books and gifts. The store was the only stand-alone children’s bookstore in the Square.

“It’s a real loss to the Harvard Square community since it’s such a unique and wonderful place for children. While we always welcome kids of all ages to the Square, it was really a delight to have a specialty store for children,” said Denise A. Jillson, the executive director of the Harvard Square Business Association.

Jillson recalled standing at the crosswalk in the heart of the Square and watching children from the T stop see the store and recognize Curious George, which she called a “beloved character.”

“To think that’s going away is very sad,” Jillson said.

According to Jillson, the Cambridge City Council has asked for intervention from the Cambridge Economic Development Division and business community.

“There’s been a lot of discussion. It would be a shame to let it go away without fighting for it,” Jillson said.

—Staff writer Kerry M. Flynn can be reached at