Druggist William J. Allinson opened his pharmacy on the corner of High and Union Streets in 1831, in the building which had previously been home to printer Isaac Collins.
A Quaker, Allinson was a close friend of the abolitionist poet John Greenleaf Whittier, who visited the pharmacy frequently, speaking against slavery from its doorstep. Allinson's opposition to slavery was not a surprise, as his grandfather had opposed it in the 1760's and 1770's. According to local legend, the pharmacy's basement served as one of Burlington's stations on the Underground Railroad.
Allinson was also interested in literature and history, and supported the Library Company of Burlington. His son became a prominent attorney in Philadelphia, and his descendants still possess a copy of John Woolman's Journal signed by Allinson's friend, Whittier.