About the Putnam County Press and the Putnam County Times!
The Putnam County Press is the official newspaper of record for the County of Putnam, the Village of Brewster, and the Towns of Patterson, Kent, Southeast and Carmel, and is mailed to subscribers. It's sister paper, the Putnam County Times, is available for free at supermarkets, libraries, town halls, diners and other points of distribution across the county.
Our newspapers have been serving residents of Putnam County since the 1850s. Throughout the decades, we have proudly been able to provide the county with police news, community events, business spotlights, educational updates, local politics and governmental happenings, and more.
For 63 years, until his passing Jan. 30, 2022, the newspapers were published by Lake Carmel resident Donald Hall. A Navy veteran, Hall purchased four newspapers in 1958 from D. Mallory Stephens, a former New York State assemblyman, whose son Willis Stephens and grandson Willis Stephens Jr. would later hold the same seat in Albany. Along with the Press and Times, Hall also owned the Putnam County Republican and the Mahopac Mercury.
The Putnam County Republican was owned by two maiden ladies by the name of Blake who ran it out of their Gleneida Avenue office in Carmel, Hall told former Press/Times Editor Marty Collins in 2012, when Collins was documenting the history of the newspapers for the Putnam County Historian’s Office. The building, formerly “a wooden house much like others along the street” still stands today. For a long time it was home of the Putnam County Industrial Development Agency and Economic Development Corporation, and Putnam County SCORE. When the surviving Blake sister died in the early 1940s, the newspaper was left to Stephens who was, at the time, chairman of the Putnam County Republican Committee.
“D. Mallory ran the newspaper for several years before selling it to Charles Wilson somewhere in the early 1950s,” said Hall. As best he could recall, Hall said he thought Wilson had been commander of a small ship during World War II. A Yale graduate, Wilson was already the young, wealthy owner of the Putnam County Press and lived comfortably on East Lake Boulevard in Mahopac.
As for the Putnam County Times, Hall said that paper was started in Carmel in the late 1940s by “a couple of brothers, the Dykeman boys,” whose farm was located on Fair Street in Carmel across from Simpson Road. They, too, sold their paper to Wilson, who had by that time built a printing plant where he published his newspapers.
“Charlie Wilson bought the equipment and opened a printing company and a newspaper publishing company,” said Hall. “He published the Putnam County Press. He owned the Putnam County Times, the Putnam County Republican and the Mahopac Mercury, but he incorporated them into one, into the Putnam County Press.”
Then, in the mid-1950s, Wilson rather abruptly left the area. Rumored to have had some trouble with the IRS, Wilson relocated to Mexico where he managed several family-owned businesses. Ownership of his newspapers then reverted back to Stephens, who held promissory notes on them.
Not interested in running the newspapers himself, Stephens turned over their production to a “Rev. Simpson, from the Mt. Carmel Baptist Church in Carmel” who, Hall recounted, ran the newspapers for a while before “turning them over to a Mahopac couple by the name of Oakley; Frank George Washington Oakley and his wife, Beatrice.”
In 1958, Oakley wanted out of the newspaper business so he could run for supervisor of the Town of Carmel. The elder Stephens approached 28-year-old Don Hall, who was at that time a pickle and ketchup salesman for the H. J. Heinz Company and head of the Young Republicans in Putnam County, about becoming a newspaper owner.
“And I said ‘Yeah!’ I took it over on the first day of February, 1959,” said Hall.
Hall worked alongside the Oakleys in their Mahopac dining room learning the trade. After several months, he quit his job with the H.J. Heinz Company, began taking journalism classes at New York and Fordham universities at night, and ran the newspaper by day. While studying journalism, he learned about impressive new printing techniques and shortly thereafter transferred his paper from Wilson’s Mahopac-based printing plant, then owned by Tommy Lotrecchiano, to a printer in Bethpage, Long Island.
“The Bethpage company was producing newspapers by photo offset, a new innovation in newspaper production, and they were doing mass numbers of newspapers – as many as 30 to 40 newspapers a week out of the one plant,” said Hall, who liked what he saw and began to search for the right locale to start his own offset printing plant.
Eventually, Hall found an ideal location. It was the old four-story New England House Hotel at 80 N. Main St., Brewster. It was there he opened his own printing plant in 1961, employing 22 people.
Over the next decade, Hall published a dozen newspapers at his Brewster plant. “I had four newspapers in Westchester, four in Dutchess and I had the papers in Putnam County,” he said. In addition, he printed the Westchester Business Journal, a Katonah newspaper and one in Yonkers, as well as area high school and college newspapers.
For Hall, it was a golden era of printing and publishing. “My selling point was, you could bring me raw copy at 8 o’clock in the morning and at 8 o’clock at night, (and) I’d give you a newspaper,” he said. “That was unheard of in those days.”
But then, Feb. 2, 1971, the plant burned down.
“I was in Boston opening up Boston and the New England area for a national children’s newspaper that I had started,” explained Hall. “When I returned, I stood there on the street and looked at the thing and said, ‘I’m right back where I started.’”
Hall returned to Mahopac where he had offices on South Lake Boulevard. He “folded up the Westchester papers but kept the Dutchess County papers going for a few years,” before ending those, as well.
Today, the Putnam County Times and Press continue Hall’s legacy.