The Daily Leader building ready for its next chapter
Published 3:00 pm Saturday, October 21, 2023
I was smitten when I walked in the doors.
After working for years in a non-descript building converted from a farm services bureau to a newspaper office, I’d come to expect a similarly attractive, functional office space. Instead, I was greeted by natural light flooding in from skylights; cool brick walls; and a fireplace in my office.
Who wouldn’t be smitten?
The Daily Leader office sits on the corner of North Railroad Avenue and East Court Street. For decades it has been home to this community’s newspaper operations — the hub of news and information reported, edited, printed and shared every day for generations in Brookhaven and Lincoln County.
The building has also been a touchstone for our community.
Betsy Belk, who worked in our marketing department for a while, talked of the excitement of taking a field trip to the newspaper when she was in school — a rite of passage for hundreds of Brookhaven students awed by watching the big presses run.
Bill Jacobs, the retired publisher whose family owned and published The Daily Leader from 1953 to late 2012, shares the best tidbits of history with me. The black columns that line the brick sidewalk in front? They’re a match to the columns at his parents’ home, brought from New Orleans. The office in the now unused circulation space? That was the entire news and business office at one time, including his father’s office. The dark room at that time was offsite — in the pool house at his parent’s home.
The renovations in 1983 that added the skylights and modern design? He led the efforts as part of the commemoration of the paper’s 100th anniversary.
The iconic publisher’s office in which I now sit? It was home to meetings with political leaders, business icons, farmers, volunteers and readers — all part of the reach and foundation of a community newspaper. And even today it’s the envy of peers on video calls, eager to know if the fireplace really works.
History has been made, recorded and reported inside these walls. Careers were started and came to an end. Millions of newspapers were printed on the presses that used to fill the production space, and thousands of you have visited us here … as customers, employees, or even school children taking a tour.
But in the past decade, the nature of the media business has radically changed. We no longer need the massive on-site press to print our pages; technology allows us to deliver news and information instantly to our readers and our community, at the click of a mouse; and our needs have changed.
That’s why we have made the decision to list The Daily Leader building for sale. We use only a fraction of the space available on a daily basis, and a property this historic and important to our community deserves to be fully utilized and developed. Stephany Smith with Betsy Smith Properties is handling the sale locally.
And while we are selling the building, we are not selling our business. The Daily Leader will continue to be here in Brookhaven, reporting on the issues and events that impact our lives in Brookhaven and Lincoln County. We’ll still be helping businesses reach customers and grow their revenue. We’ll still be telling your stories and the stories that affect your lives — both in print and digital formats. We’ll still be a part of this community’s story.
Some people will tell you that building is simply a structure of wood and metal, bricks and mortar. But I’d like to think it’s much more than that … and this building at 128 N. Railroad Ave. is ready to move onto the next chapter in its life and in the fabric of our community’s lives.
Stacy G. Graning is general manager of The Daily Leader. Contact her at email@example.com.