OSCAR WILDE MEMORIAL BOOKSHOP

LGBTQ

15 Christopher Street, Manhattan
1827
Architect unknown

Originally founded in 1967 in a storefront at 291 Mercer Street, the Oscar Wilde Memorial Bookshop moved to the parlor floor of this rowhouse in 1973 until it closed in 2009. The shop was the country’s first bookstore to cater to the LGBTQ community, selling LGBTQ literature and hosting book signings with LGBTQ authors. Its location in Greenwich Village, a prominent gay community in New York and the world, made it an important gathering place for both local customers and international visitors. Its founder, Craig Rodwell, was a leader in the gay rights movement, volunteering in gay rights groups and organizing protests. He also participated in the Stonewall Rebellion of 1969 and organized the Christopher Street Liberation Day March, held one year later, which became the precursor for all future Pride Marches. The Oscar Wilde Memorial Bookshop was also the headquarters of Rodwell’s organization, Homophile Youth Movement in Neighborhoods. In 1993, Rodwell sold the shop, passing away later that same year after a battle with stomach cancer. In 2006, the shop’s long-time manager, Kim Brinster, took over, but soon had to close due to pressures from the 2008 financial crisis and the rise in online book sales. The Oscar Wilde Memorial Bookshop is located in the Greenwich Village Historic District and is listed on the State and National Register of Historic Places.

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