Tuesday, September 20, 2016

News Sentinel Building

 (“Along the Heritage Trail with Tom Castaldi” – July 2015, No. 126)

News Sentinel Building

The News-Sentinel Building was constructed in 1925 by Oscar Foellinger, publisher of the Fort Wayne News-Sentinel. Tracing its history to the first newspaper in Fort Wayne, The Sentinel, which began publication as a weekly on July 6, 1833, its first editor of this Democrat newspaper was Thomas Tigar.  Living in Indianapolis at the time, Tigar was a native of Beverly, Yorkshire, England born there in 1807. He came to America in 1826 as an experienced printer and landed in Ashtabula, Ohio. He met his partner S.V.B Noel in Indianapolis and the two came to Fort Wayne to establish the original press for the paper on West Columbia Street. Tigar continued with the paper until 1865. He died in 1875 and is buried in Lindenwood cemetery.

   Bert Griswold relates the story of how the paper acquired its first press.  A used hand-press for the printing of the Indiana State Journal at Indianapolis was purchased and delivered to Fort Wayne. The way was difficult taking six days to transport the load over muddy roads and across swollen streams on rafts.   Type was set and in its July 6th first edition appeared the Declaration of Independence. Its first editorial recapped an oration given on the Fourth of July celebration of 1833 by Hugh McCulloch.

The Sentinel became a daily newspaper, while still publishing a weekly edition, and later merged with the Dawson Times to become the Times and Sentinel.  Under new ownership in 1866, the newspaper was known as The Democrat until 1873 when the name was changed back to The Sentinel.

By 1874, another paper began publication under the name Fort Wayne Daily News.  It was first published as a Republican newspaper which emphasized local news.  Known as “The people’s paper,” the Daily News was a financial success at the turn of the last century and in 1917 purchased The Sentinel.  The new company issued the first edition of the Fort Wayne News-Sentinel on January 1, 1918.

According to author Jim Sack’s chapter in The History of Fort Wayne and Allen County Oscar Foellinger began his newspaper career as a junior accountant at the News Publishing Company during the mid 1890s. In about a decade, Foellinger advanced to the position of business manager.  In 1920, Oscar Foellinger assumed control of The News-Sentinel, which became a leading voice for Republican politics in the region and a strong advocate for civic improvement.  Journalist and historian Scott Bushnell noted in, Hard News and Heartfelt Opinions about the history of the Journal Gazette that Foellinger became president and general manager of the News and Sentinel taking it to prominent heights. On an autumn hunting trip to Canada in 1936, Oscar died unexpectedly.  Upon his death his daughter, Helene Foellinger, became publisher and remained active until her death in 1987.

Author Sack noted that Helene Foellinger and her mother Esther established the Foellinger Foundation in the aftermath of the loss of father and husband. Financing directed to community projects such as Foellinger Outdoor Theater, Foellinger-Freimann botanical Conservatory were among the substantial contributions.

Since 1958, the News-Sentinel Building has been known as the Foellinger Center and later served as the headquarters of the United Way of Fort Wayne as well as other not-for-profit organizations.

In 1950, The News-Sentinel entered into a joint operating agreement with the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette to share common printing and other business activities.  Fort Wayne Newspapers broke ground in 1956 and both papers began publishing from a new facility at 600 West Main Street in 1958. A new pressroom and paper storage facility was completed during 2007.

Allen County Historian Tom Castaldi is author of the Wabash & Erie Canal Notebook series; hosts “On the Heritage Trail,” which is broadcast. Mondays on WBOI, 89.1 FM; and “Historia Nostra” heard on Redeemer Radio. Ft. Wayne 106.3 FM and South Bend 95.7 FM.  Enjoy his previously published columns on the History Center’s blog, “Our Stories,” at history centerfw.blogspot.com.

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