The Gilpin County Historical Society is proud to announce the grand opening of the Weekly Register-Call Historic Print Shop museum exhibit. The grand opening will be held on Saturday, April 23, 2022, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tours of the print shop will be offered at a reduced tour rate of $5 for this day. Our normal tour rates are $7 for adults; children 12 and under are free.
The Gilpin County Historical Society has partnered with the Central City Masonic Lodge, who owns the print shop, to allow us to preserve it and showcase it to the public. We want to thank the Lodge for their support in doing this. The Masonic Lodge owns the building, and they occupy the third floor for their meeting room. The Central City Masonic Lodge was founded in 1861 and continues to be an active Lodge in Central City.
The Weekly Register-Call was founded in 1862, with the first issue being published on July 28, 1862. At that time, it was known as the Tri-Weekly Miner’s Register. Over the next several years, between mergers and acquisitions, the paper adopted the name of the Weekly Register-Call in 1878 and that name continues today. The newspaper is the second oldest paper in the state and the oldest continuously published paper in the state.
The building was built in the winter of 1861 to 1862 and was a two-story building. The third floor was added in 1864 to house the Masonic Lodge meeting room. Lawyers occupied the offices in the front of the second floor. The print shop has occupied the back half of the second floor since the beginning. Various retail businesses have occupied the first floor over the years. Currently, the first floor is occupied by Ermel’s Thrift Shop, which is operated by the St. James Methodist Church, itself the oldest Protestant congregation in Colorado.
In 1862, Alfred Thompson came to Central City with a Washington hand press and some type and founded the paper. Prior to 1862, there were no newspapers in the county. In the late 1860s, they purchased a Chicago Taylor cylinder press to print the paper on. It has been reported that this press is the only one of that model left in existence. The report says that only three were made. This is the only one left, and a fire at the factory destroyed the molds. This press was used for over 100 years to print the Weekly Register-Call newspaper. This press is the crown jewel of the print shop.
The print shop also served as a job shop, providing printing services for the community. The shop features two job presses. One is a Gordon Platen press that dates back to the late 1870s. The second is a Kluge that dates back to the 1960s. The Kluge replaced a Chandler and Price platen press from 1936. There are many samples of the jobs printed over the years in the shop. The shop also has a proof press that dates back to the late 1800s.
In the beginning, there were about 15 to 20 people setting type in the shop. At some point in the late 1800s, a Mergenthaler Linotype was purchased for typesetting. Over time, several other Linotypes were purchased. Currently, the shop holds a 1914 Model K Mergenthaler Linotype that was purchased in 1936, and an early 1940s Intertype Linotype. Linotypes greatly reduced the need for typesetters, revolutionizing the letterpress printing industry.
In the shop are printing tables known as stones; several date back to around 1865. The shop also has about 130 fonts of type including some that are copperfaced. There is extremely rare support equipment including a folder that connects to the press. An engraver there dates back to the late 1950s.
When the Weekly Register-Call went to offset printing in the late 1970s-early 1980s, they placed the offset presses on the first floor and left the letterpress shop intact. Although a few pieces of small equipment and supplies have been removed from the shop, it exists mostly as it was when it was shut down.
We hope you can join us for our Grand Opening on Saturday, April 23, 2022, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. We also have our Spring Fest that day, where we are doing volunteer recruitment, membership drive, job fair, and a volunteer appreciation pizza party. Our existing volunteers will also get a free tour of the print shop that day. All of our tours start at our tour office located in Washington Hall, 117 Eureka Street in Central City. Please come out and join us on April 23 for a fun day. Light refreshments will be served.
While you are here, consider our other tours of the Thomas house, a residence set back in time to the late 1800s, the Central City Opera House, and the Teller House. Tours of the museum are available offseason for groups of five or more or by appointment, and will open seven days a week starting May 28 for the summer. The Coeur d’Alene Mine Shaft House is open for tours on the weekends during the summer starting May 28 also.
For more information, we can be contacted at email@example.com or at 303-582-5283. Also visit our web site at www.gilpinhistory.org. We look forward to seeing you at the Grand Opening and Spring Fest.