Plans are underway to renovate a former Post-Dispatch building in downtown St. Louis as 54 market-rate apartments.
Matt Masiel, president of Prime Building & Construction, of Clayton, is leading the $15 million project at 1139 Olive Street. An affiliated firm paid $4 million for the eight-story building in December 2017. Masiel said he hopes to begin its renovation in June or July and have 44 one-bedroom and 10 two-bedroom apartments ready for tenants 18 months later. Monthly rents could range from about $1,150 to $1,650.
For now, the St. Louis Election Board and two small office tenants are the building’s only occupants. Masiel said he hopes to have a final agreement with the city next month to extend the board’s lease for 10 years. Under the developer’s plan, the board’s main facility would remain on the first floor and office tenants would relocate to the third floor. Floors four through eight would be redone as apartments.
The structure built for the Post-Dispatch at Olive Street and Tucker Boulevard opened in 1917 and cost $1.4 million, according to the building’s nomination to the National Register of Historic Places. The newspaper occupied the building until 1960, when it moved to 900 North Tucker Boulevard.
Masiel’s apartment project is named Front Page Lofts as a reference to the building’s newspaper past.
“We will tie it back to the history of the Post-Dispatch,” he said.
Masiel said downtown’s apartment market is strong and should be able to support the Front Page Lofts project. He said he hopes renters include students at the St. Louis University Law School, on Tucker a block south of the former Post-Dispatch building.
“We’re pretty bullish on the apartment market downtown,” he said.
The developer added that he appreciates the “historical and beautiful” structure. Barnett, Haynes & Barnett, a prominent St. Louis architecture firm, designed the building in the Beaux Arts Classical style.
In 1965, an owner subsequent to the Post-Dispatch covered the building in a metal facade to modernize its appearance. A later owner removed that facade in 1999 to reveal the original gray granite and limestone exterior, which remains largely intact.
An issue in the Front Page Lofts project is the status of the vacant parking garage next door. The city condemned the garage in 2015 because of structural problems, records show.
Masiel said he hopes the garage’s structural problems and legal matters involving the owner, in New Jersey, are resolved in a way that allows parking for Front Page Lofts tenants. He said the garage has a direct connection to the Front Page Lofts building.
“It would be ideal for us to have parking in there,” Masiel said.
The developer said he will likely seek tax abatement from the city as a financial incentive for Front Page Lofts. He also hopes to get $2.1 million in federal and $2.7 million in state historic preservation tax credits for the redevelopment. Masiel said he is in talks with banks to finance the remainder of the project’s cost.
Front Page Lofts is not Masiel’s only downtown endeavor. Screaming Eagle Redevelopment, of which he is principal, is proceeding with its plan to redo the warehouse at 1815 Locust Street as 67 apartments.
Dec. 12, 1878
The St. Louis Post and Dispatch, operating from 321 Pine Street, has a first-edition press run of 4,020.
The afternoon newspaper costs 5 cents.
March 10, 1879
The newspaper moves to new offices at 111 North Fifth Street (now Broadway), which feature the paper's first presses.
The name also gains the hyphen that still graces the paper: St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
Aug. 4, 1880
A rival paper instigates a newsboys strike. The newsboys want the paper to cut its wholesale price. The ownership says the boys make as much on each copy as the paper does, says a brief note.
"There is no raison d'etre in the so-called newsboys 'strike' against the Post-Dispatch and the instigators of it must feel ashamed of their shabby showing. Even a newsboy ought to know that 'twenty-five papers for a nickel' can't be maintained very long outside of China.
"The newsboys make as much on each copy of the Post-Dispatch sold as we do, and we furnish the white paper, ink, presswork, type-setting and just enough brain to keep the thing going."
The strike only lasts a few days; the price of the paper didn't change.
Jan. 12, 1882
The newspaper has a new building at 513 Market Street, just off Fifth Street. The daily circulation is more than 20,000.
Pulitzer bought a new press that can automatically cut, fold and count copies as they roll off the machine.
Oct. 14, 1882
The newspaper publishes an account of a fatal shooting in its offices.
Managing Editor John A. Cockerill shot attorney Alonzo Slayback after the attorney stormed into the editor's office, angry after a series of critical editorials. Slayback drew his pistol, Cockerill reached for his, lying on his desk, and the gun fired.
Cockerill isn't charged with a crime, but resigns after more than a thousand people cancel their subscriptions. Pulitzer later hires Cockerill to be editor of the New York World.
April 15, 1888
The paper begins moving to a new building at 513 Olive Street. The daily circulation of the paper is just under 33,000.
The newspaper announced the move with a full page article and image of the office: "The change ... will be made in 24 hours, and on Monday morning the telegraph will be clicking its world-wide news as steadily in the new rooms as in the old, the swift reporters will be ready for their daily flight from the new headquarters, the smiling clerks in the new and magnificent counting-room will give welcome to all whose business opens our door, the mailing slips will lie in order for the evening packages, over head the type-setters will take copy in the finest composing-room in the city, the stereotypers will 'keep the pot a-boiling,' while down stairs in the basement the mighty Corliss engine will drive the cylinders of three presses and furnish the waiting public with ... papers."
Sept. 16, 1894
The Sunday newspaper publishes color illustrations — and comics.
(Microfilm, however, captures the pages in black and white, not color.)
Sept. 14, 1898
The newspaper publishes the first new photograph published in a St. Louis paper (so it claims).
The picture is of Giacinta della Rocca, a violinist playing at a local theater.
March 28, 1902
The Post-Dispatch moves again, this time to 210-212 North Broadway.
The previous building is put up for lease; the ad notes that the 10,000 square-foot building has electric light, steam heat and an elevator.
April 10, 1907
Joseph Pulitzer retires at 60 years old.
His retirement announcement later becomes the Post-Dispatch Platform:
"I know that my retirement will make no difference in its cardinal principles, that it will always fight for progress and reform, never tolerate injustice or corruption, always fight demagogues of all parties, never belong to any party, always oppose privileged classes and public plunderers, never lack sympathy with the poor, always remain devoted to the public welfare, never be satisfied with merely printing news, always be drastically independent, never be afraid to attack wrong, whether by predatory plutocracy or predatory poverty."
Pulitzer died on Oct. 29, 1911.
Feb. 14, 1912
Joseph Pulitzer II is elected president of the Pulitzer Publishing Co., following in his father's footsteps.
Aug. 19, 1917
The Post-Dispatch offices move again, to a new building at Olive and 12th (now Tucker).
Feb. 25, 1925
The newspaper prints a photograph of a train accident, but the accident itself wasn't as newsworthy as how the paper obtained the picture.
The image was sent through wire from the New York World office to St. Louis. It took 10 minutes, which set a record. Photographs previously had to be sent by mail.
Dec. 7, 1938
Staff at the newspaper's radio station, KSD, receive "specially prepared facsimile newspapers," sent to their homes through ultra high frequency radio broadcast.
The receivers that printed out newspaper pages sent through the system cost about $260; the paper planned to place several in public areas for demonstration.
It took 15 minutes to send one page; the first edition was nine pages long. The experiment lasted for "many months," according to a 1948 article.
Sept. 7, 1945
A 22-day newspaper strike ends, and the paper resumes daily publication.
There were no Post-Dispatch papers from Aug. 16 to Sept. 1, when a special edition started publishing. "St. Louis Daily News" was published by an inter-union conciliation committee "under emergency conditions."
The city's three daily newspapers ceased publication during the strike, which started with the carriers union.
Feb. 8, 1947
The Post-Dispatch's television station goes on air.
KSD-TV has programming from 2:30-4 p.m., including interviews with the coach of the St. Louis Browns and Cardinals catcher Joe Garagiola.
Pulitzer Publishing Co. traded the station in 1983 to Multimedia Inc.
April 4, 1955
Joseph Pulitzer Jr. becomes president of the Pulitzer Publishing Co., days after the unexpected death of Joseph II. He also succeeds his father as editor and publisher of the Post-Dispatch.
Sept. 6, 1960
The newspaper offices move to 1133 Franklin Avenue (now 900 North Tucker), the current location.
The Post-Dispatch bought the Globe-Democrat building several months earlier, along with that paper's printing presses.
In 2018, Lee Enterprises (the paper's current owner) sold the building. The newspaper now leases its office space.
Jan. 14, 1979
The newspaper publishes again after a 53-day strike.
The longest strike in the paper's history started with the Web Pressmen and Flymen's Union No. 38. Other unions also struck: the St. Louis Paperhandlers and Electroplaters No. 16, and two units of Teamsters Local 610 (the dockmen and the truck drivers).
The newspaper had 1,650 employees at the time, and 11 unions represented many of its workers. Previous contracts with all 11 unions expired on Aug. 31, 1978; the strike began on Nov. 20.
New contracts offered 6 percent per year wage hikes during the three-year contracts. Wages weren't the initial issue, however. Pressmen struck over requirements for certain numbers of employees to run presses.
The strike also shut down the Globe-Democrat, since it was printed on the same presses as the Post-Dispatch.
Feb. 27, 1984
The newspaper moves from afternoon production to morning delivery.
March 31, 1986
Joseph Pulitzer Jr. retires as editor and publisher of the Post-Dispatch (he remains board chairman).
For the first time in the paper's history, a Pulitzer was not at the helm.
Pulitzer Jr. dies of cancer on May 26, 1993. His half-brother Michael succeeds him as CEO and chairman of Pulitzer Publishing Co.
Jan. 15, 1996
The Post-Dispatch begins its first website, postnet.com.
The paper's site is now at stltoday.com.
June 3, 2005
The sale of Pulitzer Inc. to Lee Enterprises for $1.46 billion was finalized during a shareholders meeting.
Pulitzer Inc. owned 14 daily newspapers and more than 100 weeklies. With the purchase, Lee became the nation's fourth-biggest chain (in terms of dailies owned).
In 2004, Pulitzer had a revenue of $444 million; Lee had a revenue of $683 million. In 2017, Lee Enterprises had revenue of $566 million. Lee is still paying off the debt it incurred to buy Pulitzer.
The Post-Dispatch offices move from 900 North Tucker Boulevard to 901 North 10th Street.