Hampshire Review newspaper moves after 104 years - Business, Government Legal News from throughout WV

Hampshire Review newspaper moves after 104 years

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For The State Journal 

ROMNEY — For 104 years the Hampshire Review, West Virginia's oldest weekly newspaper, has called 25 S. Grafton St. its home.

The newspaper moved to that location in 1908. But during the last week of June, the Review relocated to 74 W. Main St. in Romney.

Hallways and offices had been lined with boxes for at least a week prior to the move. Walls and offices were barren of awards and memorabilia.

Charlie See is owner and publisher of the paper. He began running the paper in 1991. 

See said he's seen many changes in his years at the Review.

In the early 1900s, the rear of the front section of the building had a ladder that led to an area 10-feet down where the paper was printed.

"There were linotypes and large metal tables where the middle room is now. That is where the papers were done," said See.

The tables were called turtles.

See said the addressograph machine was in the corner and was used to put labels on papers being sent out.

"The computer era changed all that," See said.

See's office was used as a storage room for large rolls of paper.

It now houses his desk, which was owned and used by former Gov. John Cornwell.

"This desk was made at the deaf school," said See, referring to the West Virginia Schools for the Deaf and the Blind.

See said he also used the governor's chair up until 10 years ago, when the wheels began to deteriorate.

"Where the Internet room is now was the print room. An 8-foot pit was under the printing press in that room," said See.

See named each room and what was in it. He reminisced on the changes that have occurred over the years.

"In 1992, we remodeled the middle room and brought advertising out front," See said.

See's wife, Sallie, remembers when she helped with papers at the age of 5. 

"I was placed on a high stool on Wednesday mornings and helped with what we called stuffing the papers," said Sallie See.

"When I got old enough, I was allowed to cross Main Street by myself.  I delivered five papers to the lobby of the New Century Hotel."

She reflected on Miss Kate, who was in the front office, and Miss Mary, who was the linotype operator.

"Those were the ladies that lived in the Davis House. They were sisters," said See.

It was Sallie See's great-grandfather, John J. Cornwell, who purchased the Review.

"When he (Cornwell) passed away in 1953, my dad John Ailes (grandson to Cornwell) became the editor," said See.

See said when Miss Kate got sick, her mother, Ann Ailes, ran the front office.

Charlie See worked in printing and moved to editorial in 1989, and began running the paper in 1991 following the death of John Ailes.

Sallie See became editor of the paper in 2005.

"I feel I'm a better person for being part of the paper," said See.

Nora Kimble has the longest tenure at the paper.

"I've been here 49 years," said Kimble.

"I've seen this place go from a dingy old-time news office to a bright buzzing bunch of offices with carpeted flooring," said Kimble.

Over the years Kimble worked as the front receptionist, became business manager and ultimately a reporter and columnist.

"One of the greatest advantages of working at the paper is making so many friends," said Kimble.

A Bit of History

The Hampshire Review began in 1884 as a single-sheet, four-page, eight-column paper.

From its start until the late 1930s, the newspaper was made up by hand-setting the type, which meant each word was made up of individual letters, both big and small and everything in between.

In the early days, the newspaper was printed on an old hand-operated Benjamin Franklin Press. 

At the time the paper was purchased by the Cornwell brothers, the plant was on the second floor of the Wirgman Building on Main Street, which is the present-day site of The Bank of Romney.

From there the paper was moved in 1895 to the downstairs of a new brick building further west on Main Street built by the Cornwell brothers, who ran their law practice upstairs.

The Cornwell name can still be seen on the now one-story structure just past the stoplight.

At the time of the move further west on Main Street, a Campbell Country Press, operated by a kerosene motor, was purchased.

The Review was enlarged on Jan. 3, 1906, to an eight-page, six-column paper.

In 1908, the Review moved into new quarters in The Bank of Romney building, again on Main Street and across the street from the present bank.

Due to its loyalty to its employees, the newspaper was one of the last in the state to shift from handset type to one set mechanically.

In 1937 the paper switched to more modern Linotype. In 1975 the paper again shifted to the modern-day offset operation, which is still the mode of output.

With the advent of computers, newspapers can still produce numerous pages with a relatively small staff.

Now, in 2012, the paper will again move, this time to 74 W. Main St., just two doors away from Mr. Cornwell's law office building, which still stands today.



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