Monday, March 12, 2012

Rugby Printing Works

Like most communities in the 19th century, Rugby had its own newspaper, The Rugbeian.

The newspaper carried a chronology of the developing community and the comings and goings of its citizens, which has been preserved in the Rugby archives and has provided a well-documented history of the community. But as the community fell on hard times, the paper ceased publication and the building was eventually demolished sometime in the 1930s. But that was not to be the end of the Rugby Printing Works.

When the second Tabard Inn burned in 1884, Abner Ross, the owner and operator, moved 16 miles south to start over. He had kept a pet deer at the Tabard Inn, so named his new town Deer Lodge. This fine Victorian structure was built to house that town's newspaper. It later became the town post office, and was being used as a hay barn when bought by Historic Rugby and moved Rugby in 1978. It now sits across the road from where the original Rugby print shop sat.

The furnishings inside are all from the right period, although none came from either the Rugby or Deer Lodge businesses. This ca. 1885 treadle press is the current work horse, being used to print such things as small signs to be sold in the museum store or paper bags to place sold merchandise in. Behind it sits a ca. 1859 newspaper press that still needs further restoration. If and when it gets restored, we can expect to see sheets of a reborn Rugbeian hung to dry in the shop.

There are cases of period type,
and a composing desk where dies are assembled or taken apart.

There are a couple of specialty presses, as well, such as this hand press that was used to print small items, such as calling cards.

Heat in the newspaper office/composing room comes from this small wood stove. Would you care for a cup of tea?

The Cumberland Plateau was late getting electricity. The print shop was wired in 1948 when it still served as the Deer Lodge post office. It took another five years for electricity to come to Rugby. Note the old-fashioned wiring placed on the surface of the walls and ceiling. It is still in use.

Volunteers now staff the print shop on weekends and during special events. Thank you Carolyn, Gerald, Julian, and all of you who have volunteered to be trained.


  1. How interesting !
    I hope to return to Rugby this summer, there was so much to see.
    I was fascinated by the library, the smell of the books, it transported you back in time...
    Great post !

  2. If this is the Rugby in Tennessee, I've been there! Or, rather, I've been "by" there. I took a photo once... what was it.. maybe the Rugby Post Office, or the Library? Whatever it was, I recall that it made me chuckle because it was about 10 feet square! That was about 22 years ago...