Century-old printing press donated to Grand Island museum

Century-old printing press donated to Grand Island museum


GRAND ISLAND — Let’s see a Samsung Galaxy try to make it this long.

The Stuhr Museum recently took possession of a printing press built in 1914. And it still works.

Milo Kocourek, who owned the press and a similar model, was still using them when he retired late in 2017. When he closed the business, he just unplugged them. “They are both functioning machines,” says Tracy Bell of Hastings, who donated the press to the museum.

When the Heidelberg Windmill press was new, it could print 1,000 sheets an hour. “That’s not bad for this old girl,” Bell said of the press.

The machine came from Acme Printing, the Hastings business operated by Kocourek. Bell and her husband, Scott, are redeveloping the former home of the business.

The press is said to weigh 2,700 pounds, but Bell is skeptical.

She and her husband moved the press to its new location in the Acme building, but they didn’t feel good about it.

The Bells “went to set it where it was going to be displayed and it almost went through the floor,” she said.

Tracy Bell and several workers had a heck of a time transporting the press to the Stuhr Museum.

“It is heavier than it looks. It’s absurdly heavy,” she said.

On her way driving to Grand Island, pulling the press behind her on a trailer, she had tire problems and wound up in the parking lot of Williams Midwest House Movers. To finish the delivery, she also needed help from Husker Power.

The press is now on the second floor of the Stuhr Museum, where it has become part of the communications section.

The full name of the press is the Heidelberg Original Platen Press. It was built in Heidelberg, Germany. In German, it is known as Schnellenpressenfabik.

The machine was long used by the Hastings Tribune.

The Bells, who bought the Acme Printing building in January 2018, have held onto the second press.

The building is being turned into an event space. Known as Brique 1887, it will also include rental space.

The structure was originally a farm implement and horse and buggy showroom, Bell said. It later housed Cushing Grocery and Queen City Laundry.

Kids who’ve seen the original dies for the press were quite interested, Bell said. They learned that in the old days, it took a lot more work to change fonts and print sizes.

One of the men who helped move the press to the museum was Bell’s brother-in-law, Brandon Brown of Husker Power.


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