While renovating an existing building in Gulfport’s Art Village Courtyard for a new business, workers recently discovered “a time capsule” that has inspired the creative spirit of one local designer.
Inside some of the walls were collections of crumpled newspapers from 1948 that were being used as insulation. Whole broadsheet-sized pages along with pieces of newsprint have been recovered depicting content from St. Petersburg’s Evening Independent newspaper and another paper from Ithaca, New York.
The new business that is still under constructions is named The North End Tap House and, when opened, it will offer a variety of beers. Houston Gilbreath, one of three business partners was present when the historical papers were found. And, he immediately texted Wendy Ohlendorf, another partner who is also the owner of two other courtyard businesses: Ohlendorf, Atelier along with Vintage Small Bites & Wine Lounge.
“I texted back, ‘Save them!,’” said Ohlendorf. “I immediately saw the decorating potential in whatever was being found if it could withstand the restoration process.”
Ohlendorf consulted a local newspaper industry expert who has a degree in printing technology and learned how to handle, unfold and flatten the crumpled newsprint with an iron so it could be used for her interior decorating applications.
The vintage newspapers will be showcased inside Vintage on the knee board of the bar and a focal point wall in the bathroom, said Ohlendorf who has already made a name for herself as a clothing designer.
“You just never know what you’re going to find where. It’s like a little time capsule,” she said. “It’s pretty cool to read these articles about Communism. The way news was written and the language used is much different than today. The content itself is just crazy but that’s what life was like then – really, not that long ago.”
Not all of the content in the historical newspapers is about world politics.
One restored item from the Indy is a two-page, black-and-white advertising spread – called a “double truck,” that depicts an array of items for sale at Webb’s City, the famous all-purpose drug store that at one time was a destination for both locals and tourists in downtown St. Petersburg.
The newsprint is “beautifully yellowed,” said Ohlendorf.
But, she didn’t want the paper to visually age even more when the decorating installation process begins so through research, she found a new, archival and durable fixative product made by Mod Podge that will work for her needs.
“There’s a ton of papers that have yet to be undone,” she said. “Who knows what else is in there?”