It was moving day for The Post and Courier on September 1, but who but their employees noticed? The newspaper showed up in front yards and was delivered to inboxes with no pauses or noticeable difficulty.
Yet the move to 148 Williman St. is a significant milestone in the history of The Post and Courier and its predecessors.
The newspaper was located at 134 Columbus St. for almost 70 years, the longest period of its existence at one location. If these walls could talk …
For most Charlestonians today, it would be hard to remember when the newspaper’s offices were elsewhere.
The building on Williman has been redesigned for press staff and company employees. The newspaper will continue to print in the Columbus Street building until early 2022, when a modern press is due to be installed in a new printing plant in North Charleston.
Don’t expect Williman Street to be the last move.
Pierre Manigault, president of the Evening Post Publishing Co., said the company plans to move the newspaper back to its new offices on Columbus Street after the property redevelopment.
War and earthquakes
The newspaper has occupied more than a dozen locations since it opened at Crafts’ South Range, near Adgers Wharf, on January 10, 1803. It is the oldest daily in the South, and the second oldest in continuous operation in the South. United States United States, surpassed only by the New York Post. It changed location to expand its operations, for mergers and through acts of war.
Most dramatically, during the Civil War, the newspaper was forced to leave its offices at 111 East Bay St. after being bombed during the siege of the city.
The Charleston Courier, as it was then called, moved to a building on Meeting and Reid Streets, out of reach of federal guns. After the fall of the city, The Courier was requisitioned by Union officers, moved to Hayne Street in the Market District, and operated on behalf of the occupying force until the end of the war. Eventually, the newspaper was returned to its owners and returned to East Bay Street.
The Courier became The News and Courier following its purchase by the Charleston News, a newspaper made successful by Francis W. Dawson, one of the South’s leading post-war editors.
It was located at 16 Broad St. in a building that still stands.
The newspaper was there when an earthquake hit the city in 1886. A small team published an account of the disaster the next morning, despite severe damage to the building.
The Evening Post opened in 1896 on Meeting Street, on a site where the Gibbes Museum of Art is now located, and has moved nearby twice, eventually settling in a handsome two-story brick structure that the company built on the site of the Institute Hall. A third floor was added to the building in 1928 to accommodate The News and Courier following its acquisition by the Evening Post Publishing Co.
Longtime reporter Doug Donehue once recalled it as a place of “green glasses, slamming typewriters, creaky floors and sweltering summer heat.”
House for 70 years
The 134 Columbus St. Newspaper House also had a lot of character, as additions, office partitions and other modifications over the decades served to create an interior with an occasional roundabout, a newspaper morgue on a mezzanine otherwise unoccupied and at least one empty, without an office window opening onto a stairwell.
The sound most associated with the newspaper industry – the clatter of typewriters – was replaced by keyboards and computer screens in the early 1980s. (Columnist Frank B. Gilbreth Jr., however, continued to write the newspaper’s most popular feature film, “Ashley Cooper’s Doing the Charleston,” with a typewriter until his retirement in 1993.)
Smoking was banned in the newsroom in the mid-1980s, and the floating smells of photographic chemicals and hot wax used in newspaper collage faded with technological advancements in production.
Even so, 134 Columbus St. still conjured up a newspaper operation with the smell of newsprint and printing ink, the buzz of presses, and the ingrained residue of 70 years.
The building doubled in size in 1964 and underwent another major upgrade in 1977. The sturdy structure withstood the long night of Hurricane Hugo – September 21, 1989 – as press and production crews published a newspaper the next morning using back-up generators.
Good work – sometimes good work – has been done at 134 Columbus St.
In 1954, editor-in-chief Tom Waring devised a relentless editorial campaign to write Strom Thurmond on the US Senate ballot, in an effort to break the Barnwell Ring’s political hold on the state. Thurmond’s victory marked the only time a writing candidate has won at this level in the country’s history.
In 2015, the newspaper received a Pulitzer Prize (its second) for public service for its series on the scourge of domestic violence in South Carolina. He has been a Pulitzer finalist at least five times. The list of notable news and editorial initiatives over the past 70 years could go on and on.
In my opinion, the investigation of the Sofa Super Store fire in 2007 that killed nine firefighters was one of the best in the newspaper. He was instrumental in uncovering gaps in the response and training of the fire service, and he helped push for necessary reforms.
Ultimately, the Columbus Street building will be razed and redeveloped as part of Courier Square, a mixed-use residential and commercial development.
The sale of established newspaper buildings has occurred elsewhere in the country, typically when new owners cash in on valuable assets. During this time, these newspaper operations generally moved to new homes in the suburbs.
In this case, a downline company of Evening Post Industries will be involved in the redevelopment of the newspaper’s ownership, allowing the eventual return of The Post and Courier news operations to a new home on a part of the site so long associated with the newspaper. keeping the public informed and politicians honest.
Charles Rowe is a former editor of The Post and Courier’s editorial page, and author of a newspaper history in 2003.