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Pressmen's Home Historic District
Post-card image of the entrance to Pressmen's Home, ca. 1925
|Location||Tennessee Highway 94, Rogersville, Tennessee|
|Area||65 acres (26 ha)|
|Architect||George L. Berry|
|Governing body||Hawkins County, Tennessee|
|NRHP Reference #||85002970|
|Added to NRHP||November 20, 1985|
Pressmen's Home was the headquarters for the International Printing Pressmen and Assistants Union of North America from 1911-67. The facilities provided on the union's campus, in Hawkins County, Tennessee near Rogersville, included a trade school, a sanitarium, a retirement home, a hotel, a post office, a chapel, a hydroelectric power production plant, and other facilities designed to make it a self-sufficient community.
Pressmen's Home was the brain-child of George L. Berry, who grew up near the site in Hawkins County, Tennessee. After he became president of the Pressmen's Union, he convinced union leaders to purchase the Hale Springs Resort, a mineral springs retreat. The buildings from the resort formed the core of Pressmen's Home around which later facilities were constructed.
As the union grew, so did Pressmen's Home, adding larger and more elaborate facilities. In its heyday, Pressmen's Home was a self-sufficient town that even provided its own electricity (several years before the Tennessee Valley Authority did the same for the rest of Hawkins County.
Beginning in the mid-1960s pressure from competing unions to lobby the U.S. federal government was beginning to convince leaders of the union that their location in rural East Tennessee was becoming detrimental to the interests of the Union. The Union announced it was moving its headquarters in 1967; lack of funding and merger with other printing unions led to the closure of Pressmen's Home as a retirement facility for union members in 1969.
Since the Union left, several schemes have been proposed to revive the site, including tourist resort, retirement community, and even a state penitentiary. Today the only active project is a golf course and country club that sometimes operates a restaurant. Buildings on the property have fallen into disrepair; several have burned down due to fires that started by accident or by arson.
The Administration Building was built in 1912 and was the original location of the Trade School. After new Trade School facilities were built in 1947, the building housed the executive offices of the Union's International president and secretary-treasurer. The Membership Records Department, the Accounting Department, the Service Bureau and the editorial offices were also housed in the building.
The building was abandoned after the Union left Pressmen's Home in 1969.
The Home Building was built in 1911. It was under construction when the Union moved its headquarters to Pressmen's Home after purchasing the Hale Springs Resort.
It was built to house the visitors that had formerly visited the Hale Springs (which were believed to have medicinal qualities, due to the high sulphur concentrations in the spring water). The building was home to many of the International officers while they stayed at Pressmen's Home. After a hotel was completed in 1926, the building became known as simply "The Home," and it was used as an apartment complex for full-time residents. The Home was equipped with a kitchen, dining room, pool room, and other amenities.
The building fell into disrepair after the Union left Pressmen's Home; today it stands in ruins.
The Sanatorium was built in 1916. In the early years of printing it was thought that exposure to printer's ink was a cause for tuberculosis. The Union was interested in the welfare of its members, and so the hospital was completely staffed, adequately equipped, and ideally situated for combating the deadly disease within the means of the technology of the times.
Union members who contracted the disease could come to Pressmen's Home and receive care at no charge. Many who died from the disease are buried in the cemetery at Pressmen's Home.
The building was demolished in 1962, to make way for other facilities before the Union left.
In 1926, a four-storey hotel was built to accommodate Union members and their families that came to Pressmen's Home to train at the Trade School.
The hotel's facade was made from sandstone removed from a quarry located on the premises. Inside the hotel, the lobby had a beautiful tile floor and an adjacent reading room. Home-cooked meals were prepared for the hotel's guests, largely from on-site facilities that included a dairy farm for milk, chickens for eggs and poultry, a large vegetable garden, and hog lot for pork. The guest rooms were appointed with iron beds and dressers.
The Memorial Chapel was built in 1926 as a non-denominational church dedicated to the memory of union members who died in World War I. Later, the Chapel's dedication was expanded to include all people who served in United States and Canadian military service since that time.
The chapel was designed by architect John Sheridan in the Italianate style and was built of native sandstone. It had stained glass windows from Louis Comfort Tiffany and a fresco painting on its ceiling. At the time of its construction, it was thought to be the only church owned by a labor union. Outside the chapel, in a garden, stood the printing press upon which the design of the union's logo was based.
George L. Berry, the president of the union and founder of Pressmen's Home, is interred in a mausoleum near the chapel. Both the chapel and the mausoleum still stand today.
Trade school building
The Trade School building was built in 1948. It was the cornerstone of the educational and training program at Pressman's Home.
The school housed over $500,000 (more than $5.4 million in 2007) in presses and equipment. The school provided training in letterpress, gravure, and offset presses, ink mixing, camera, stripping, platemaking, color separation, and bindery operations. All of the equipment was provided to Pressman's Home by the manufacturer on a loan basis.
This trade school was an attempt by the Union to set itself apart from its union competitors. Trainees were required to have been in the union for five years, however many people from the Hawkins County area were allowed to train at the school at no charge without any experience.
- "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2009-03-13.
- Bobo, Jeff (April 17, 2008). "Trash Fire". Kingsport Times-News.
- Grubb, Bill (December 1, 2005). "Arson suspected in Pressmen's Home fire". Rogersville Review.
- Ferrell, Rodney L. (2009). Hawkins County. Arcadia Publishing. p. 76.
- History of Tennessee from the Earliest Time to the Present. Nashville: Goodspeed. 1887. OCLC 7914830.
- Price, Henry R (2002). Old Rogersville: An Illustrated History of Rogersville, Tennessee 1. Rogersville: H R Price. OCLC 51158046.
- Price, Henry R (1996). Hawkins County: A Pictoral History. Virginia Beach: Donnings Co. ISBN 0-89865-974-4.