As press is dismantled, the Post bids farewell to another piece of the past
Published 12:10 am Thursday, July 21, 2022
SALISBURY — When most folks in Salisbury think of the Salisbury Post, they think of the Hurley family, and for years, the newspaper was indeed a completely family-owned endeavor and an icon, for decades boasting a circulation larger than the city’s population.
Through the years, the Post, like many newspapers, has been through changes, including moving printing off site, leaving the massive press silent and unused. Late Wednesday afternoon, Al Parker of A-Systems Property Services and his crew began the final dismantling and removal of the press.
And as the huge piece of equipment responsible for the creation of so many issues of the paper was coming down, it brought back memories of the history of the Salisbury Post so far.
Notably, it was not always a Hurley family enterprise. Founded in 1905 as the Salisbury Evening Post, it was originally put together by a group of men via the Royal Printing Company. It was 1912 before James Franklin Hurley, known as J.F. Hurley, moved to Salisbury from Concord and obtained controlling interest in the newspaper.
Through the years, the newspaper has known for numerous superlatives: when it began to publish seven days a week, it was the smallest paper in the state to do so; it was the first in the state to use offset printing; the paper consistently won state awards for excellence; the paper was known for offering the lowest ad rates in the area, despite having a larger circulation.
The paper has been produced in several locations around town, including the former Meroney Opera House before it burned to the ground in 1912, taking all of the newspaper’s essential equipment with it. The owners continued to publish from a printing press in Spencer until Hurley took over and brought the paper back to Salisbury. Hurley began to buy out the other investors, and by 1955, the paper was owned entirely by the Hurley family.
The newspaper moved to its current location of 131 W. Innes Street in 1922, and will remain at that address despite the building’s recent sale.
After J.F. Hurley Jr.’s death in 1986, his son, J.F. Hurley III, also known as Jimmy, took over the paper, and the Hurley family continued to run it until its sale in 1997 to Evening Post Publishing Company out of Charleston.
In 2014, Boone Newspapers, Inc. purchased the newspaper, and in 2020, the paper dropped to printing three days a week, Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday, with online e-editions two other weekdays.
Gordon Hurley, one of J.F. Hurley Jr.’s three sons, said the paper became and remained successful throughout the years of production “because we had such good people, throughout the whole company. And my father was always committed to helping the town. He was a good man.”
Former employee John Rink started working for the paper at 11 years old as a part-time carrier. By the time he was 14, he had gotten his working papers and was coming to the paper to work during his lunch hour at school. In all, he spent nearly 60 years working at the Post.
“Oh I did a little of everything,” he said. “I did electrical repairs, plumbing repairs, I cleaned bathrooms — basically anything the Hurley boys didn’t want to do, I did.”
J.F Hurley Jr. was clearly Rink’s idol, and he made it clear when he said, “There have been two perfect men on this earth: Jesus Christ and J.F. Hurley Jr.”
Rink was at the paper when the current press was put in place, and noted there is 8 feet of crushed stone and 6 feet of concrete underneath, to support the weight and the vibration.
“I know things change, and I know the internet has been an issue for newspapers, but I still believe there is a place for newspapers in our world,” he said when asked about the press coming out of the building and changes over the years. “I know the paper is printed in Winston-Salem now, and I am glad it is still here, but sometimes, it would be nice to go back to the way it used to be.”
This story has been corrected to note the three-day a week print schedule started in 2020.