THE NEWS CENTRE
The building known as the "News Centre" was built in 1902 and was owned by Harry McClelland. There had been a meat market on the first floor and Dr. C.T. Kings dental office had been on the second floor. On November Ist, 1911 Oliver Hull and his wife, Jennie Russell Hull, opened a store they called "The News Depot". They had the agency for the Edison Phonograph and Records, had a piano and carried sheet music and also took the agency for the Cleveland News. Later they became the agency for the Cleveland Plain Dealer and also ran a laundry service in the building.
Mr Hull used a horse and a one seated vehicle with a fringe on top for delivering newspapers around town.
They later hired three newsboys to deliver the papers and they pushed a wheeled pushcart around town on Sundays to deliver the heavy papers. Mr. Hull passed away in 1913 and Jennie took charge of the News Depot. She added postcards, stationery, periodicals and magazines to the stock as well as confectionaries. In 1917 much publicity was given New London by Jennie being awarded a prize for having the best Edison display in the state.
After Jennie and Ford Bracy married in 1920 she decided to sell ice cream to the public. A small "ice house" was constructed in Jennies back yard to store ice cut from the pond that was once where the present football field now is located. The ice cream was secured from a Cleveland plant and shipped to New London on the Big Four Railroad where it was then brought via their Model T to the News Depot. Vanilla, strawberry and chocolate were the favorite flavors of ice cream sold. A new soda fountain was placed in the front part of the News Depot with a small table and chairs farther back from it.
Jennie sold the News Depot to a Mr. Gribben on Apri1 30th, 1925 and five months later he sold it to his son-in-law, Andrew Dambach. He called it "Andy's Place" and booths were placed along the west wall with an awning hung outside to simulate a "sidewak cafe".
About two years later Andy sold the business to Mr. Strickland and Strickland's father-in-law, Mr Crandall.
On November 30th, 1930 they sold it to Ted Cunningham. The first step Mr. Cunningham took was to give Tommy Twaddle the managing of the place. A contest was held by the Record for a new name for the business which was won by Stella Harris for "News Centre" and it has been that ever since.
In 1937 Mr. Tripp of Rochester painted nine murals for the walls. The Flax Mill, The original C.E. Ward factory, the Barrets Chapel and school, the Golding Corners School, the "Square" in Fitchville, the North side of East Main Street, the South side of East Main Street, the West side of South Main Street and the Homer Johnson home. Mr Tripp painted each canvas in the back room, then placed it on the wall with an adhesive. The nine canvasses were placed on three walls. Two years later some of the booths were removed for displaly cases for cosmetics, perfumes, household remedies and aids. From time to time more new merchandise was added. Manager Twaddle went into the service in World War Two.
In 1945 Mr. Cunningham sold the News Centre to Jessie Davis Stevens. The store was a gathering place for New Londoners during the war and also a bus stop for the bus to Ashland. All the newspapers for New London were still handled here at the News Centre.
In 1952 Jessie sold the News Centre to Arolo Swinehart. After one year of operation he sold it to Tom Twaddle, the former manager now back from the war. Tom made many changes including a new heating system and a rest room. After the train service was discontinued the newspapers came by truck during all hours of the night so Tom issued a key to them so they could leave the papers in the back room to keep them out of the weather. Tom and Marie obtained a "restaurant license" in order to sell coffee and sandwiches and other food items.
In 1968 Tom and Marie Twaddle sold the News Centre to Bob and Mimie Luxon. Bob also bought the "real estate" to become the fIrst person to own both the land and the building. In placing the needed news racks and showcases, some of the murals would be almost covered or hidden from view. It is said that in the effort to remove one canvas, both it and the wall finish were damaged to the extent the entire wall was repainted. By 1971 only five of the original murals remained. For most of the time Luxon had the News Centre he also had the Village Radios there and had an employee there 24 hours a day to man the police, fire and other radios. These later went over to the village offices but they were in the News Centre for many years.
About 1988 Bob Luxon sold the News Centre to Mark Bunt. Mr. Bunt later went into bankruptcy and the business was closed and the building taken over by the bank. Richard Smothers bought the building and he and his wife, Denise, operated the News Centre for about a year and turned it over to Roger Poorman who had it for just a short time.
Troy Ernsberger then operated the store also for a short time; then it was closed for awhile.
Shirley Thomas decided to open the store again since it had been so much a part of New London and she kept it going a few more years but closed it down in June 2000. The local New London Area Historical Society has now rented the building as of March 2001 and will display their historical collections of New London in the building. The soda fountain and bar have been saved as a memorial to the many years of operation as the News Centre.
V.K. Neel, most of story from history by Helen Foskett