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OC Historical Society: A History of the Orange Review

WRITTEN BY RAY EZELL

Figure 1. The Green family in 1960, pictured from left to right: Duff, Angus, James W. Sr., Andrew and James W. Jr. (Photo Courtesy of the Orange County Historical Society)


On March 7, 1914, the Orange Review newspaper was sold at public auction to Rufus G. Roberts, the agent of Raleigh Travers Green, the publisher and editor of The Culpeper Exponent.[1], [2] That sale included what Duff Green would describe many years later as “broken down” presses.[3] Within a few weeks, the Review’s printing office was moved to the north side of Main Street, to a building owned by Mayor Frank Perry, adjacent to Grymes Drugstore west of the railroad tracks (where the Lerner Bros. store was later located).[4] The paper was under the management of Ben R. Roberts (brother of Rufus Roberts), who operated it until 1918.[5]


In July 1914, the Review unleashed an innovative contest to prop up its flagging subscriptions. The grand prize, a new Ford automobile, was promised to the person who secured the most pre-paid subscriptions to the newspaper in its “Great Auto Contest.” The second prize was a new Haydock Top Buggy.[6]


Local tradition purports that on Jan. 1, 1918, the Review suspended its operation due to an inability to find suitable employees to replace the ones that had left for military service during World War I.[7], [8] This tradition states that Ben Roberts locked up the building on the first day of 1918 and never returned. In fact, it appears that the Review continued its operation until April of that year.[9] In any event, Orange was a one newspaper town for the next decade.


Beginning in 1929, the Orange businessmen’s association (that later evolved into the chamber of commerce) recognized the need to add a second newspaper to compete with the long-running Orange Observer. This may indicate that the politically independent Observer fell out of favor with Orange’s business or dominant political establishment. At the urging of Severn N. Nottingham and Virginius R. Schackelford, business leaders lobbied that the Orange Review be re-established.[10] In response, James W. Green of Culpeper (a WWI veteran and nephew of Raleigh T. Green) and Bayne M. Bushong, editor and owner of the Greene County Record and the Madison Eagle (and the future mayor of Madison), formed a partnership in mid-1930 to publish a new paper in Orange called the Orange Sun. This paper was initially intended to reach publication by August, but there were delays to this schedule.


At the end of the year, Green moved to Orange to perfect the new operation; and in January 1931, Green and Bushong leased the old Express building, adjacent to the Gaines building on Railroad Avenue, from Norman C. Bailey and installed their linotype press in the building that would be later occupied by the Sunny South grocery.[11] The linotype was purchased in Farmville and hauled to Orange by R. G. Blakenbaker of Madison in two trucks.


At the urging of many in Orange, Bushong and Green purchased the rights to the Orange Review name from Raleigh Green, thereby continuing the Review franchise in Orange and bridging it to the 1913-1918 iteration of The Orange Review.[12] On March 5, 1931, the first issue of the newly constituted Orange Review (under J. W. Green) was published on a flatbed press from its Railroad Avenue printing plant. The first local subscriber to the new Orange Review was reported to be W. H. Bates of Bates Brothers garage on Chapman Street. It continued at this location until 1936.


In describing the new endeavor, James Green’s first editorial testified that it was launched in “response to forward looking citizens who visualized a greater future for the community.” Green opined that the key ingredient for the new publication was the newly installed modern equipment and that the paper should “encourage the spirit of confidence in the future of Orange.”[13] On April 27, 1932, the newspaper’s owners amicably dissolved their partnership, with Green acquiring Bushong’s interest.[14] In 1936, the newspaper moved to the building directly west of its Railroad Avenue location to a storefront on Chapman Street.[15] Interestingly, in 1942 during the country’s scramble to recycle metal for the war effort, the Review’s linotype press was scrapped and donated to a Boy Scout scrap metal drive, and the Review replaced it with a newer model.[16]


After James Green died in 1963, R. Duff Green became the managing editor of the paper, and it became one of the first papers to implement offset type, thereby eliminating the need for most of the company’s linotype presses. Also in 1963, the Greens incorporated their operation into Green Publishers, Inc. and eventually owned five weekly papers (in adjacent counties) and published ten others throughout the region.[17], [18]


Figure 2. Locations of some of Orange’s historic newspapers. (Image Courtesy of the Orange County Historical Society)

Sources:


[1] “Orange Paper Purchased,” The Culpeper Exponent, March 13, 1914, 5.


[2] “Auction Sales, Future Days,” The Times Dispatch, March 4, 1914, 11.


[3] Miscellaneous Duff Green notes on file, Orange County Historical Society, Orange, Virginia.


[4]“Our Birthday,” Orange County Review, March 3, 1977, 1.


[5] “Former Review Man Here,” The Orange Review, September 7, 1933, 1.


[6] “Attention Everybody,” The Culpeper Exponent, July 31, 1914, 11.


[7] “History of Newspapers Published in Orange,” The Orange Review, January 17, 1952, 12.


[8] “New Look Featured,” January 4, 1973.


[9] “Orange Review Suspended,” The Culpeper Exponent, April 11, 1918, 1.


[10] “Review Completing 25 Years of Service in Orange County,” The Orange Review, March 1, 1956, 2.


[11] “Orange to Have New Newspaper,” Virginia Star, January 22, 1931, 1.


[12] “Madison Truckman Moves Orange Newspaper Press,” Greene County Record, February 12, 1931, 2.


[13] “Salutatory,” The Orange Review, March 5, 1931, 4.


[14] “Notice of Dissolution of Partnership,” Greene County Record, April 28, 1932, 4.


[15] “Review Completing 25 Years of Service in Orange County,” 2.


[16] “Old Printing Press on the Scrap Heap,” Richmond Times-Dispatch, Oct 16, 1942, 1.


[17] Holladay, James. A Study of the Orange County Review, (n.d.): 11, Manuscript on file, Orange County Historical Society, Orange, Virginia.


[18] Miscellaneous Duff Green notes on file, Orange County Historical Society, Orange, Virginia.

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