Renovation of Arkansas Gazette's Building Reveals History

LITTLE ROCK, AR - The renovation of a buildintg once home to the oldest newspaper west of the Mississippi River has revealed parts of Arkansas history once forgotten.

The dusty basement of the former Arkansas Gazette building served as home to boxes of negatives including photographs of former President Clinton as a boy and images of the 1957 Central High School desegregation crisis.  Pieces of the newspaper's old pressroom sit near a folder containing more than 100 letters and telegrams congratulating the newspaper for winning two Pulitzer Prizes in 1958 for its desegregation coverage.

The Gazette, which first published in 1819, was purchased by Gannett in 1986.  The paper was shut down in 1991, and its name and other assets were sold to the company that published the competing Arkansas Democrat, which then changed its name to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

Now, the Democrat-Gazette's corporate owner, WEHCO Media, Inc., is remodeling the vacant 1908 building for three state-funded charter schools.

Lynn Hamilton, vice president of operations at the Democrat-Gazette, says the newspaper will be looking for a home for the items of historical value, with the remaining things to be placed into an estate-like sale "very soon."

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)