The Kentucky New Era, which sprang to life in Hopkinsville in 1869 -- just four years after the cessation of the Civil war -- has had a number of homes. The first of these were several locations on East Sixth Street. Now it has a new one, on a site that is part and parcel of the downtown revitalization. One might casually say that the paper once moved to the suburbs but is now home again.
The New Era was a weekly paper from 1869 until 1888 -- a span of almost 20 years -- when it then became a daily. During this period, in 1883, the paper was acquired by Hunter Wood.
It is perhaps no coincidence that the years when the New Era was a weekly correspond with Reconstruction (1865-1880). With the economy's rebound and the population growth in Hopkinsville, in 1888 it became necessary for a town of our size to have a daily paper in circulation.
In 1910, the New Era built its own building at the corner of West Seventh Street and Bethel. From an architectural standpoint, it is interesting to note that it was the only building ever built in Hopkinsville in the Richardsonian Romanesque style. (Henry Hobson Richardson, along with Louis Sullivan (Chicago) and Frank Lloyd Wright came to be known as "the recognized trinity of American architecture.") When the New Era moved to its new home on East
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Ninth Street in 1971, the downtown building was taken over by Kentucky Derby Hosiery.
The remodeled structure which is about to become the newest home of the New Era was once four separate buildings or bays.
These structures date from the time of the 1887 fire along Main Street -- of undetermined origin. This fire (1887) is not to be confused with the huge fire of 1882 which decimated the entire area from Fifth to Eighth streets between the east side of Main and Liberty.
Prior to the fire of 1887 and the subsequent Victorian buildings that sprang up in its wake, there was an imposing building at the corner of Eighth and Main (the Kentucky New Era's new home), which -- judging from the exterior window cornice details -- probably dates from the late 1830s or early 1840s. It sports no fewer than six chimneys.
By 1865, when this photograph was taken, the building housed Crutchfield and Beard (saddlers) on the ground floor as well as the firm of G. W. Graves (wool carders). Centered above the main entrance on the second floor, notice the door with a business sign covering the lower half. The business is that of E. L. Foulkes "ambrotypist." Ambrotypes were photographs on glass plates. This seemingly useless second-floor center door was most probably used to hoist large items into the building which were destined for the second or third floors. Notice the building to the immediate right of roughly the same period, which has already begun to sag noticeably in this 1865 photograph. The Little River is overflowing its banks in the background. This simple picture releases a virtual treasure trove of useful information for 21st-century viewers.
For almost half a century, from 1874 until 1920, M. Frankel & Sons occupied the spot. The name of the company around the turn of the century had morphed into "Frankel's Busy Store" as we can see from the 5th of September, 1912 photograph showing the County Fair parade in front of it.
Around 1921 the four-bay facade -- that has been retained to the present day -- was added and a new business -- J.H. Anderson's Department Store -- occupied the spot. Anderson's was an upscale department store as we can see from the photograph taken just inside its entrance. In 1941 Anderson's downsized and J.C. Penney moved into the left-hand bay and remained there until 1971.
From 1972 until 1990 the Dollar General Store was the tenant, and in 2001 the space became the New To You Furniture Store.
There is a hint in the title. It may have been new to you, but ...
Its next incarnation was as a military clothing store until around 2015. With a new facelift, and a new interior layout, the building is poised and waiting for the New Era to again open its doors downtown. An exciting moment for us all.
In December our theme song will be "I Love A Parade." Join us here for this Christmas offering on Dec. 14.
James B. Coursey's Hiding in Plain Sight column appears monthly in the Kentucky New Era. His column is researched jointly with County Historian William T. Turner. Reach James Coursey at 270-719-9462 or email him at email@example.com.