“THE HOME PRESS” HISTORICAL BUILDING DEMOLISHED IN LA PLATA
“THE HOME PRESS” HISTORICAL BUILDING DEMOLISHED IN LA PLATA
article & photos compiled by Mayor Lois Bragg/ former owner of “The Home Press”
Change is sometimes hard to accept and often brings back many memories of the “good old days”. As I watched the structure located at 107 N. Gex Street, which formerly housed “The Home Press”, being demolished this past week I had many good memories of times spent working there from 1987 until the business was relocated in 1997. This once very beautiful structure housed “The Home Press” for over 120 years and during that time many changes in ownership were seen.
I remember many long nights of “putting the newspaper to bed” as my Editor Debbie Clay and I called it back in those days when we had antique typeset machines that constantly caused problems and delayed the progress of the publication. On one of those very frustrating days of mechanical problems, my friend and employee Donna Smithson said “we need to start using computers to type our articles & advertisements! So with very little computer knowledge on my part and Donna saying she knew just enough to get us in trouble we jumped in head first and modernized by purchasing computers and a newspaper designing program. During my first years as owner, I spent my Sunday afternoons in the “darkroom” developing and printing the pictures I had taken for the next week’s issue. Due to the increased cost of the chemicals involved and my wanting to free my time for family, I began having the film developed locally each Sunday afternoon after one hour photo labs became popular. Back in those days, we had what were called “layout tables” and we put the newspaper together like a puzzle which was sometimes very stressful when you had a deadline to meet. Oh how easy it is now with everything being digital and the process of adding news articles and pictures taking minimal time compared to our days of publication.
In the earlier days, there was a printing press at the location but by the time I purchased the business we transported the finished layout to the “Macon Chronicle Herald” to have it printed. During my tenure, Macon eliminated their printing press and “The Home Press” was printed by the “Kirksville Daily Express”.
During this past weekend at the La Plata Public Library researching the history of what will always be “The Home Press”, I have so many fond memories of the good times as well as the disputed and bad times during my tenure as the owner of the publication. I met so many people that I would never have had the opportunity to meet and am proud of my accomplishments in bringing the news to the La Plata and Atlanta communities. During my ownership of “The Home Press” I remember attending almost every La Plata and Atlanta City Council and School Board meeting and personally writing an article of the discussions held. I attended many sports events, musical programs, and graduations during those years and was so honored to be able to sit at a special media table on the Mizzou basketball court during the AHS Lady Hornets multiple trips to the state basketball tournament.
Unfortunately, due to family medical issues, I decided to sell “The Home Press” but have often wished that I hadn’t made that decision so quickly and had continued the publication so that it would have continued as a locally owned newspaper.
As a result of my weekend of research, I have compiled a chronological outline of the history which began in 1876 of one of the oldest newspapers that continues to operate in Macon County. From 1876 until 2011 it was a locally owned publication for over 135 years when it was sold to the Lewis County Press, LLC.
It all began in May 1876, when J.B. Thompson introduced a newspaper, “The Moberly Signal”, which was very short lived and unsuccessful in Moberly.
On August 18, 1876, Mr. Thompson brought his newspaper endeavors to La Plata and began publishing the “La Plata Home Press” of which he was listed as the Editor/Publisher of the Democratic based newspaper that published on Thursday of each week for a subscription price of $1 per year. The masthead read “Devoted to the Interests of the Community in which it is published”.
Prior to the birth of the “La Plata Home Press” there were four other newspapers located in La Plata. Other newspapers that had short terms in La Plata were the “La Plata Free Press” published by Frank H. Newton and T.B. Marmaduke in 1871 and the “La Plata Globe” published by W.Y. Bruer and was listed as an independent newspaper. In 1873, W. H. Howard and H.C. Caldwell started the “Advocate” which folded within 3 years and was later owned by Joseph Park. “The Republican” was established in 1892 with J.F. Weaver as the Publisher/Editor until 1921 when E.T. Barnes became the Editor until it folded in 1924.
Over the span of the 142 years of publication, the newspaper has been printed under several different names such as “La Plata Home Press”; “The Home Press”; “Macon County Home Press”; and “La Plata Home Press & Atlanta Express” with dba’s of “Home Press Publishing Company” and “A.M.S. Publishing Company”.
During 1880, the masthead was changed to “The Home Press” still listing J.B. Thompson as the Editor/Publisher and remained so until November 1885 when Charles N. Mitchell was listed as the Editor and Mitchell Bros. & Company (Charles N. Mitchell, John F. Mitchell, & W.N. Rutherford) as the Proprietors & Publishers. On August 6, 1886, Mitchell Brothers was listed as the Proprietors/Publishers. December 3, 1886, only Charles N. Mitchell was listed as the Editor/Proprietor and later the Publisher until March 15, 1889 when Charles E. Reid was listed and the masthead was once again “La Plata Home Press”.
During most of the 1890’s there was no listing for the Editor/Publisher of the “La Plata Home Press” until November 6, 1891 when it was listed as merely Cole & Atterberry with a price of $1.25 per year.
On December 25, 1891, “La Plata Home Press” was listed by W.E. Cole and shortly after this period of time there is a gap in the history of the publication until 1898 when the publication was purchased by James Lewis Baity who was listed as the Editor until August, 1907.
1907 - Will L. Clements was listed as Publisher; 1909 – 1910 the publication was listed as “Home Press Publishing” as the proprietors; 1911 – Ivan H. Epperson was listed as Editor; 1912 – H.C. Sturt was listed as Editor/Manager; 1913 – “La Plata Home Press” listed only as dba A.M.S. Publishing Company - $1.00 per year; 1914 – 1922 “La Plata Home Press” dba A.M.S. Publishing Company $1 per year with Nolan Edwards, Editor/Manager; late 1922 it was listed only as dba A.M.S. Publishing Company; 1923 – “La Plata Home Press” and C.G. Sheets was listed as the Editor/Manager – dba A.M.S. Publishing Company; 1924 – 1927 – August W. Prash was listed as the Editor/Manager – dba A.M.S. Publishing Company; 1929 – 1938 – Mrs. W.W. Henderson was listed as the Editor/Publisher –“La Plata Home Press”; 1939 – Henry E. Williams was listed as the Publisher/Business Manager & Wilma M. Prash as the Editor; 1940 – 1941 – E.T. Hodges & E.J. Hodges were listed as the Publishers; 1942 - 1948 – “La Plata Home Press” - E. J. Hodges was listed as the Publisher - $1.50 per year; 1948-1951 – C.E. Stark was listed as the Publisher - $2 per year; 1951 – 1958 - W.H. “Wit” Ledbetter was listed as the Editor/Publisher - $2 per year; 1958 – April 30, 1964 - Mrs. Clara Hook & Gerald D. & Donald M. Bloom were listed as the Publishers with Gerald D. Bloom as the Editor-$2.50 per year.
On May 7, 1964 Cisney Noel became the owner of the “La Plata Home Press” and served as the Proprietor/Editor for the longest term of anyone in its history until his death in December 1978. The subscription rate was listed as $6.
At the time of Cisney’s death, Nathan B. “Nate” Walker was asked by Mrs. Noel to assist with the operation of the newspaper and January 4, 1979 – January 13, 1982, Nathan B. “Nate” Walker was listed as the Owner/Publisher/Editor (La Plata Home Press & Atlanta Express) with a subscription rate of $7.50. During Walker’s ownership on March 8, 1979 the publication changed to the “Macon County Home Press” with subtitle of “La Plata Home Press & Atlanta Express”.
On January 20, 1982 Steve & Elaine Marbery were listed as the Owners/Publishers but had a very short lived stay in La Plata and in January 1983 the La Plata State Bank was listed as the owner of the publication with Linda Price serving as the Editor for a short time until February 23, 1983 when Pat Belt assumed the duties as Editorial Coordinator until March 18, 1983.
On March 25, 1983 the masthead changed back to “The Home Press” with Lee and Kay Lindblom & Jim King listed as the owners with Jim King serving as the Editor and Lee Lindblom was the General Manager. The Lindblom and King operation didn’t survive long and on March 7, 1984 the La Plata State Bank was once again listed as the owner with Mary Francis serving as the Editorial Coordinator.
On May 23, 1984 the owner was listed as the La Plata State Bank with Annette Mullins and Mary Francis as the co-editors until September 5, 1984 when Debbie Aldridge was added as the Business Manager. August 28, 1985 the owner was still listed as the La Plata State Bank with Debbie Aldridge and Verna Elrod listed as the co-editors. On January 8, 1986 the owner was still listed as the La Plata State Bank with Debbie Aldridge listed as the Editor and Gina Schroeder listed as the layout editor and $9 yearly subscription rate.
On June 4, 1986 the owner was still listed as the La Plata State Bank with Gina Schroeder serving as the Editor until July 9, 1986 when Pat Belt assumed the position of Managing Editor and on September 3, 1986 Pat Belt was listed as the Managing Editor and Gina Schroeder as the Layout Editor with a subscription rate of $12.
On October 15, 1986 the owner was listed as the La Plata State Bank with Pat Belt as the Managing Editor and Debbie Clay as the Layout Editor. On June 3, 1987 Lois Bragg joined the staff as the Advertising Representative which she continued for almost 13 years.
On April 19, 1989 Pat Belt was listed as the Owner/Managing Editor of “The Home Press” with Debbie Clay serving as Layout Editor and on June 14, 1989 Pat Belt was listed as the Owner/Publisher with Debbie Clay serving as the Managing Editor.
February 20, 1991 “The Home Press” was sold by Pat Belt to Lois Bragg who had been her employee since 1987 and Bragg was listed as the Owner/Publisher, Typesetter, & Advertising Representative with Debbie Clay as the Editor.
Debbie Clay departed “The Home Press” to pursue other employment in February 1995 and on March 1, 1995 Lois Bragg was listed as the Owner/Publisher/Editor/Advertising Representative & was assisted by Donna Smithson and Gerri Smith.
The March 5, 1997 listed 209 S. Gex Street (formerly Burdman Auto Parts) as the new home of “The Home Press” with Lois Bragg as the Owner/Publisher/Editor/Advertising Representative who was assisted by Donna Smithson until the selling of the business on January 6, 1999 to Rebecca Jeffcoat and Dena Higbee who were listed as co-owners/publishers.
On December 8, 1999 the publication was still located at 209 S. Gex but Rebecca Jeffcoat was listed as the sole Owner/Publisher and was later listed as Rebecca Jeffcoat Huddleston. On October 25, 2006 “The Home Press” was moved by Owner/Publisher Rebecca Jeffcoat Huddleston to 302 E. Colbern Street where it remained until she sold the business to the Lewis County Press, LLC in May 2011.
The publication established an office at 215 S. Gex Street where is currently located and was renamed “The Macon County Home Press” with Shon Coram listed as the Publisher and Sharon Coram as the Design Editor. Randy Bunch, who works in the La Plata office, was listed as co-editor/distribution in the December 3, 2012 issue; later as Editorial Assistant; and currently serves at the La Plata office manager.
Besides purchasing “The Macon County Home Press”, the Lewis County Press, LLC also purchased the assets of the bankrupt 104 year old “Macon Chronicle Herald” from Gatehouse Media, Inc. at the end of July 2012 and is now the only newspaper in Macon County. The group also took over the publication of the weekly “Macon Journal” with the purchase of the assets.
The structure remained vacant from 1997 when “The Home Press” moved to the 209 S. Gex Street location until the early 2000’s when the City of La Plata rented the building for the La Plata Police Department for a couple years. The police department moved back to city hall during the early part of 2003 due to the deterioration of the building and excessive utility costs. The building remained unoccupied and was considered derelict and unsafe by the City of La Plata until the time of its demolition the week of March 31st, 2018. Due to the fact that it would have been too costly to renovate the once beautiful structure that in its final years had vegetation growing in the front windows and in the upstairs portion of the building, demolition was the only solution to beautify and make the area safe.
The ownership of the historical building remained with Nathan B. “Nate” Walker from January 26, 1979 until December 8, 1999 and during the financial hardships of the publishers in 1982 and 1983. As a result of the those failures, the La Plata State Bank assumed ownership of the publication until Pat Belt purchased the business in 1989.
The real estate portion of the business was transferred from Walker to the La Plata State Bank on December 8, 1999 until it was transferred to the Azalea A. Walker Revocable Trust on February 17, 2000.
On December 21, 2007, the property was purchased by Tom and Kelly Marshall from the Azalea A. Walker Trust and then transferred to the Marshall Bros., LLC. on November 3, 2008. On October 18, 2010, Marshall Bros., LLC transferred the property back to Tom and Kelly Marshall.
Joshua and Eden Etteldorf purchased the building from Tom and Kelly Marshall on March 6, 2012 and they sold the building to the current owner, Charles Allen on May 23, 2013 who purchased the property for water access to the old fire station building that he had purchased from Dickie Brown.
“Looking back, reminiscing happy moments is not optional, it’s a choice. Everybody wants to remember happy memories afterall.” Now all I can do is sit back and reminisce about the good times and experiences in my life that took place at 107 N. Gex!
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