In 1854, a Book and Tract Fund was established, with the goal of
raising $50,000, and educator George Emerson, cousin of Unitarian
minister Ralph Waldo Emerson, headed the fund-raising effort. New
AUA headquarters, replete with a street-accessible bookstore, were set
up at 21 Bromfield Street, near Boston Common. With the fund and the
storefront in place, the precursor of Beacon Press—then called simply
the Press of the American Unitarian Association—was officially born.
On March 9, 1854, AUA president Samuel Kirkland Lothrop
addressed a gathering at 21 Bromfield to explain why regular and
planned book publishing was the logical next step for the AUA. In the
nineteenth year of his incumbency, Lothrop was pastor of the very
wealthy, very distinguished Brattle Street Church.