Preserving The Paper’s History

Every once in a while I am given an opportunity to create without limits. When I was asked to come up with a redecorating plan for the lobby of the Norfolk Daily News here in Norfolk, Nebraska, my creativity was given an opportunity to run wild! 

This is a family owned newspaper and has been since purchased by the great- grandfather of the current owner, Bill Huse, in 1887! I began to select fabrics for furniture, redesign the greenery pieces and plan ways to display current photography in place of old artwork. Once into the project, I learned of a stash of amazing historical items stored in the basement. This gave me an idea for the perfect statement art needed in the front lobby! 

Look at a few of these amazing items! Matt Peterson told me they had been moved from previous buildings and storage and even saved from flooding more than once! These amazing bits of history were just what I needed to tell the tale of the history of printing methods

I started by simply looking through the massive collection. No one was seeing these items! The staff was interested and helpful as I spent a few hours in the back room digging through treasures. Some were able to offer names of people in old etched plates or names and possible dates of machinery and equipment shown in black and white photos. 

I had a concept- use a selection of items and set up a timeline on 2 backgrounds, displaying them on each side of the lobby over the new furniture I was ordering. A combination of artifacts and text components were to be mounted on a laminated board. The trick was editing down to just the key items! 

Everyone submitted ideas on what to use and how to arrange things. It was a true collaboration! Can you imagine how hard it is to edit down over 130 years of historical items? I wanted to find a way to use it all! We began a process of selecting, arranging, reselecting and rearranging! It was a group effort to distill the collection into 2 groups of cohesive items that would tell the store of printing at the Daily News through history. 

My favorite item from the collection was this 40-pound lead and steel item called a “Lockup” (pictured above). This is the last one used back in the 70’s. A page was printed by letterpress method. It was just too special not to use, so I devised a way for it to sit in a custom table. Designed from my sketch, John and his team at Northeast Machine created this table to hold the lockup securely. See it paired perfectly here (below) with this loveseat, from our downtown neighbors, One Office Solution.

Through many revisions, the wall decor pieces were coming together! We were all very happy with the results. Just some final additions of descriptive text, provided in a very professional way with help from Love Signs. The text was carefully worded to explain the items in a way that even a child could understand. 

I’m happy to say this project tops my list of designs I’m most proud of! The lobby is open daily and visitors are welcome to view the history boards! Preserving history isn’t just a trend. It can be a valuable part of design and will create a reminder of our past for every one and in this case, how far technology has brought us!

MORE ARTICLES