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Location, location . . .

by Larry S. Chowning

During its 100 years of existence, the Southside Sentinel has always been in the town of Urbanna. Since 1896, it has been situated in six different buildings and three of those structures are still standing.

G. F. Palmer first established the newspaper in a building known as the “Jew Store,” which was on Prince George Street in an old store building. The location, also known as the old Methodist parsonage by longtime residents, is now occupied by The Allen Group.

Former Sentinel co-editor and co-owner Carl Tomlinson wrote in a July 2, 1953, issue that, “It was called the Jew House for the reason that it was the only available building for Jews who often were seeking a location to dispose of their surplus stock. They never lasted much over a year.”

Walter Ryland purchased the business in December of 1896 and moved the Sentinel three times in his 20 years of ownership. Tomlinson wrote, “Mr. Ryland purchased the paper from Mr. Palmer . . . and moved the equipment to a house which had been constructed for it, which is now being used by E.M. Folliard for his insurance business. The printing office was on the second floor and the drug store, then owned by Dr. William S. Christian, was on the first floor.”

It is believed that the building Tomlinson refers to has been torn down. It was on Cross Street, very close to where Marshall’s Drug Store is today.

Ryland later moved the Sentinel across Cross Street into an old dwelling/store building where Taylor Hardware is today.

The final location of the Sentinel under Ryland’s ownership was the building on Cross Street that once housed Liz’s Dress Shop. The building still stands and is behind the Urbanna Baptist parsonage which fronts on Watling Street.

In 1916, Tomlinson and Julian Brown purchased the Sentinel. In 1923 they moved the business to Virginia Street in the building that today houses Virginia Street Gallery, directly across the street from the Middlesex Woman’s Club building.

When present owners Fred and Bettie Lee Gaskins purchased the Sentinel in 1966, they kept the Sentinel in that building until 1972 when they moved to the newspaper’s present site on the corner of Virginia and Prince George streets. The building was purchased from Garland Mercer of Deltaville.

The old “Pluck, Perseverance and Progress” has jumped around town a bit, but has not missed a week of news since G.F. Palmer started the paper in April of 1896.

More historical information may be viewed by clicking on these links to stories published in 1996 during the Sentinel’s centennial celebration:

posted 07.17.2008