Why is 'The Bulletin' carved on a Chinatown constructing? Answer Man has the rating. – Washington Post
Whereas wandering alongside G Avenue in the Gallery Place space lately, I noticed a small constructing whose entrance learn “The Bulletin.” The constructing is now occupied by a bar known as Bar Deco. My guess is that the Bulletin was based throughout the 1920s newspaper heyday however foundered throughout the Nice Despair that began solely a 12 months later, whereas extra established papers like The Post and the Star weathered the storm. Is that so?
— Fenwick Anderson,Takoma Park, Md.
Answer Man wasn’t certain what he’d discover when he went digging into the historical past of the Bulletin. The story he discovered ended up being an oddly trendy story: a media disrupter who ended up getting disrupted himself.
That media mogul was Henry Tait Rodier, a native Washingtonian and one among 13 kids of James Rodier, a one-time proofreader for The Washington Post and former editor of a Tennessee newspaper.
Henry labored as a typesetter at the Night Star whereas going to George Washington College’s legislation faculty. “By no means did get to be a lawyer,” he later advised a journalist.
The explanation? Henry grew to become infatuated with a expertise that tried to convey the pleasure of a stay baseball sport to an viewers removed from the motion. He didn’t invent what was generically often called the Play-o-Graph, however he popularized one model of it.
What Henry known as his Rodier Electrical Baseball Recreation Reproducer was a billboard-measurement panel adorned with an illustration of a baseball subject. The board was studded with lights that might be illuminated to point out the path of a ball or a runner. Field rating data was additionally displayed.
The board’s operator had a direct telegraph line to the sport being performed and would replace the board — the arc of a pitch or hit, the positions of base runners — as particulars had been wired in. Newspapers — together with The Post — typically put in Play-o-Graph boards exterior their places of work, drawing crowds numbering in the hundreds.
In 1909, Henry rented an armory constructing at Ninth and G in Northwest and charged 25 cents a seat for individuals to look at the Nationals “play” St. Louis. He promised a depiction of “the nice American sport in a method so practical as to be startling. Not solely is each play on the diamond proven, however the participant dealing with the ball will be plainly seen.”
Henry later stated: “I’d by no means operated one among the darn issues, however I obtained by. Revamped $200 that week, and I started to marvel how lengthy this had been going on.”
Henry’s board was smaller than some on the market, however he insisted this was not a downside. Learn one among his advertisements: “[When] it will get in motion one doesn’t want any superfluous bulk to gaze upon.” He took his boards throughout the nation, setting them up in cities together with Indianapolis and Buffalo.
Henry was 24 when he launched his scoreboard enterprise. In the 1920s, radio began changing into the most popular solution to get pleasure from baseball remotely, however by then, the Rodier Electrical Baseball Recreation Reproducer had made Henry a rich man.
In 1915, he purchased a 19-year-previous Washington newspaper known as the Bulletin. It was a single broadsheet web page offered largely to the homeowners of eating places, bowling alleys and barbershops, who would put up it of their home windows or on their partitions.
Like his baseball scoreboard, the Bulletin was geared toward sports activities followers. The paper included some common information objects however primarily consisted of sports activities tales. It printed editions at midday and three p.m., permitting it to have brisker scores than the morning papers. Throughout baseball season, the Bulletin would roll out a last version as quickly as Washington’s ballgame had ended, enabling it to have extra data than the afternoon papers.
When Henry expanded the Bulletin, he requested his architect brother, Gilbert, to design a new dwelling for it. The headquarters at 717 Sixth St. NW opened in 1928, housing the Bulletin and the printing press of its father or mother firm, United Publishing.
It’s a good-looking construction, confronted in limestone with 4 artwork deco carvings at the very high by Charles Sullivan depicting the historical past of printing. From left to proper, there’s a Chinese language printer, Johannes Gutenberg, Benjamin Franklin, then a trendy printer. The constructing is on the D.C. Stock of Historic Websites.
The Bulletin folded in 1956. Like Rodier’s electrical scoreboard, it was a sufferer of radio — and a new medium, tv — in addition to the extra versatile deadlines of its newsprint rivals.
Henry died in 1977 at age 92. If his ghost had been to make its solution to Bar Deco throughout a baseball sport at present, he would possibly see followers stealing glances at their smartphones, following the lighted pixels of apps that approximate a sport in a acquainted approach.
“Why, I did that a hundred years in the past,” he’d say.
Have a query about the Washington space? Ship it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
For earlier columns, go to washingtonpost.com/johnkelly.