A Timeline Of ‘Newtown Bee’ Milestones
As they were reflected in several proclamations received on the occasion of The Newtown Bee’s 145th Anniversary, below, find a timeline of just some of the newspaper’s notable happenings and milestone moments.
*The very first print edition of The Newtown Bee was published on June 28, 1877, becoming the community’s first newspaper of record after John T. Pearce first set up shop, fixing a subscription rate of $1 per year, and selling advertising for 75 cents per inch;
*Reuben Hazen Smith, predecessor of current Publisher R. Scudder Smith and former Publisher Paul Smith came to Newtown and bought the publication, issuing his first edition in April of 1881, maintaining a steady weekly production schedule ever since;
*On October 7, 1892, control of the paper passed to the ownership of Arthur J. Smith of Bridgeport, who took over business operations, and Allison P. Smith of Springfield, Mass., who took up the editor’s duties until he passed in 1934;
*In 1903, The Newtown Bee had outgrown its rented Main Street offices and as a result, constructed its own headquarters at 5 Church Hill Road, where the company remains to this day;
*By that time, The Newtown Bee’s popularity had grown regionally; it maintained a series of correspondents writing about communities from Middlebury to New Fairfield, maintaining that practice into the 1970s;
*Arthur’s son Paul S. Smith joined the staff in 1932, settling into the editor’s position upon the passing of Allison, where he guided The Bee and influenced Newtown for the next 39 years;
*The Newtown Bee building was expanded in the 1930s to accommodate its expanding need for publishing and related equipment to service its readers and advertisers, with another significant addition following in 1950;
*By 1953, The Bee had the largest paid circulation (5,513) of all of Connecticut’s country weeklies. And in 1956, the newspaper became the first weekly in the state to install a teletypesetter that enabled a linotype to set type mechanically from a tape;
*By the early 1960s, R. Scudder Smith returned to Newtown from college and a job in New York state to help with the growing workload at The Bee, and assumed the title of editor in 1973 while Paul Smith remained an active presence, contributing his experience and ideas as consulting editor until his death in 1990;
*Scudder Smith launched, with his father’s forbearance, four pages in The Newtown Bee on June 28, 1963, devoted to antiques, and on October 24, 1969, unveiled a separate tab section marking the birth of what subsequently became the separate publication Antiques and The Arts Weekly, which, by 1985, boasted a circulation of about 19,000;
*In 1973, Curtiss Clark was hired by The Bee as a reporter, subsequently earning the managing editor post, and in 2007, becoming the first editor of the broadsheet paper who was not of the Smith dynasty.
*By 1993, The Newtown Bee continued growing to the extent that the company decided to construct a new printing plant on Commerce Road, which was completed and opened a year later with press expansion that allowed The Bee to print tab-sized sections of up to 64 pages, at a speed of 18,000 copies an hour;
*The Bee launched a website on March 17, 1995, becoming the first newspaper in the state to present constantly updated news and information to its readers on the internet;
*In 1997, The Pleasance was opened by The Bee Publishing Co and the Smith family for the enjoyment and pleasure of Newtown’s citizens and featured a gazebo, paths, a bocce court, and an antique fountain, providing groups or individuals a gathering or special event site free of charge.
*In July 2007 The Bunny Garden at The Pleasance officially opened in a wooded thicket to provide a whimsical place for children to play, read, socialize and let their imaginations soar in a space they could call their own.
*The Newtown Bee has earned numerous state, regional, and national journalism awards for excellence in reporting, editorials and community service, and editors Paul S. Smith, R. Scudder Smith, and Curtiss Clark have each been inducted into the New England Newspaper Hall of Fame by the New England Newspaper and Press Association;
*Following the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy of December 14, 2012, The Newtown Bee published its first and only “Extra” edition to help keep the community informed from the most local perspective, about this horrific incident;
*On May 20, 2016, Curtiss Clark retired as editor, passing that leadership to Editor Nancy Crevier; and upon her retirement, to John Voket on July 1 2021;
*In 2019, capping a litany of awards and professional points of recognition, The Bee was recognized among its many regional peers as a New England Newspaper of the Year;
*In the face of the 2020 global COVID-19 pandemic, The Newtown Bee, to maintain the health and safety of its staff, temporarily halted weekly print production, shifting to daily updates on its newtownbee.com website in order to continue keeping the community informed of local news and developments; and
*On June 24, 2022 and on the occasion of its 145th anniversary, The Newtown Bee began publishing in full color for the first time in its history, and was poised to launch the company’s first-ever e-newsletter, which is expected to debut and begin arriving in residents’ e-mail boxes by mid-July.