The St. Louis Post-Dispatch has had six homes in its nearly 137-year history. Now it's looking for a seventh.
Lee Enterprises, owner of the Post-Dispatch since 2005, announced Tuesday it is selling its building on 900 North Tucker Boulevard and searching for a new location.
The six-story building, completed in 1931, has been the newspaper's headquarters since 1959, the year that the Post-Dispatch bought the property and printing equipment from the St. Louis Globe-Democrat, a now-defunct morning newspaper.
Hilliker Corp. has been engaged to market the property, Davenport, Iowa-based Lee announced. The 235,000-square foot building is listed for $4.25 million, including 30 on-site parking spaces. The six-story property has an additional 126,000-square-feet of lower level production space.
In addition to the building, there are several parking lots totaling 2.91 acres that hold more than 400 vehicles for sale at $1.35 million. A total price for both the building and the parking lots is $5.6 million.
"This property is a great addition to the historic building stock in the St. Louis market," Meade Summers, president of Hilliker, said in a statement. "It could remain office space or be repositioned for residential use."
Summers said the newspaper will search for a new location once the building is sold and will likely remain in the building for up to one year after it is purchased.
The planned sale mirrors similar moves by other media organizations. Major metropolitan newspapers, such as the Star Tribune of Minneapolis and the Philadelphia Inquirer, have relinquished large headquarters buildings that were built for an earlier age.
In St. Louis, presses at the downtown headquarters went silent in 2008, freeing up considerable space. All printing, inserting and distribution operations now take place at the Pulitzer Publishing Center in Maryland Heights.
"We are a 21st-century media company operating in a mid-20th-century building," Ray Farris, president and publisher of the Post-Dispatch, said in a statement. "As we expand our digital platform, we need a modern facility that is suitable for us now and in the future."
Farris said the Post-Dispatch would like to stay in the downtown St. Louis area.
"As we explore possible locations, nothing will change for our readers," he said. "We will always be the leading newsgathering organization, regardless of our physical address."
BUILT IN EARLIER ERA
E. Lansing Ray, publisher of the Globe-Democrat, began plans for a building at 12th Street and Franklin Avenue (now Tucker and Dr. Martin Luther King Drive) in 1929 because of dramatic circulation and advertising growth.
Despite the financial crash that year, Ray refused to scrap construction plans, saying he wanted his newspaper "to demonstrate its faith in the community."
At the 1930 groundbreaking, as St. Louis and the nation were sinking into the Great Depression, Ray said he was especially glad that construction was underway.
"It enables us," he said, "in a very tangible way to express our confidence in St. Louis, its business and its real estate values, and their future, and particularly as to the coming rapid improvement of general business conditions."
The building was designed by Mauran, Russell and Crowell, whose other notable local designs include the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis (1924), the Southwestern Bell Building (1926), Police Headquarters (1927), and the Soldiers Memorial (1936). Much of their work was in the Art Deco/Moderne style.
In 1955, shortly before his death, Ray sold the Globe-Democrat to S.I. Newhouse, founder of Advance Publications. Four years later, in the midst of a strike that interrupted publication for 99 days, Newhouse sold the Globe-Democrat building and printing equipment to the Post-Dispatch. The Globe-Democrat then leased space in the old Terminal Railroad Building a block and a half away, where it remained until the 1980s.
After the Post-Dispatch moved in, workmen affixed large block letters, made of zinc, to the marble walls of the ground-floor lobby, spelling out the newspaper’s famous platform, written by Joseph Pulitzer in 1907. In it, the founder declares that his newspaper will “never be satisfied with merely printing news.”
The first home of the Post-Dispatch, founded in 1878, was located at 111 North Broadway, according to the newspaper's archives.* The newspaper moved to 513-515 Market Street in 1882, then 513 Olive Street in 1888, 210-212 North Broadway in 1902 and 1139 Olive Street (now 300 North Tucker) in 1917.
The building at 300 North Tucker, a Beaux-Arts Classical design erected during the tenure of Joseph Pulitzer II, is the only former Post-Dispatch headquarters still standing.
* Editor's note (added May 29): In its first three months of operation, until March 1879, the "Post and Dispatch" operated from 321 Pine Street. That address was described, in an 1888 story published in the Post-Dispatch, as the "old office of the [Evening] Post, which occupied part of the [then] Globe-Democrat building, using the Globe-Democrat's presses." The newspaper moved into its "first home," the address at 111 North Fifth, in March 1879, according to newspaper's story. Fifth was renamed Broadway by the Municipal Assembly in 1883.