The PCNR: An Abbreviated History

Give or take 142 years

Sylvester Beers Allis

March 1866: Charles Blanchard founds The Cold Spring Recorder, promising readers “a family journal devoted to the dissemination of general and local news, and the impartial discussion of questions of public interest.” He unloads the failing paper 18 months later to a group of local residents who appoint village postmaster Sylvester Beers Allis as editor and soon after sell him the paper.

1886: A county history reports The Recorder, still owned by Allis, “is independent in politics, fearless in expression of opinion and has an extensive circulation.”

1938: The Cold Spring Recorder merges with The Putnam County News, founded five years earlier, to form The Putnam County News & Recorder.

July 2008: Roger and Elizabeth Ailes purchase The PCNR from Brian O’Donnell. Ailes says of his wife: “She’s the publisher. I don’t run it, I don’t own it, and I don’t even read it until Saturday … I’m busy doing my daytime job” as chairman of Fox News.

2009: The Ailes buy 144 Main St. in Cold Spring and name Joe Lindsley, 25, as PCNR editor.

July 2010: Gordon Stewart launches the upstart

April 2011: Lindsley quits, later alleging that Roger Ailes was having him followed by Fox News security. He is succeeded by Douglas Cunningham.

November 2012: The Pretend Putnam County News and Recorder (PPCNR), by an anonymous satirist, appears at Mimicking The PCNR’s claim to be “the only real newspaper” in Philipstown, it promises to be the area’s “only real pretend newspaper.”

The PCNR building at 144 Main St. (photo by Michael Turton)

March 2014: The PCNR hosts a forum before the Cold Spring Village Board election in which it asks questions “tailored” for each candidate. The following year, two candidates refuse to participate.

April 2014: Elizabeth Ailes and The PCNR threaten to sue Cold Spring Trustee Stephanie Hawkins for defamation after she shares a Facebook post by another trustee who wrote: “The Ailes newspaper and their candidates have gone too far. It is clear I’m being followed; my movements are being tracked and reported in their newspaper.”

August 2016: Unhappy with The PCNR’s coverage of the Butterfield development, which it characterized as a “war” between the developer and village, Cold Spring Mayor Dave Merandy declares, “The only war being waged is between The PCNR and fact.”

December 2016: Elizabeth Ailes announces she is selling The PCNR to Cunningham and putting 144 Main on the market.

3 thoughts on “The PCNR: An Abbreviated History

  1. I wonder how you could have not made one single mention of the long tenure John LaDue had of the paper and its linotype machines rolling to print the paper locally. He lived above the paper on Main Street, just across from present-day Cathryn’s Tuscan Grill. We know that the reason for The Paper’s birth was because of the litany you mentioned in the article, but Joe Lindsley, Stephanie Hawkins and Dave Merandy are only minor side lights of this paper’s long history and importance to this community.

    • This comment brings up the issue of the lack of a proper written history and historical analysis, not only for this newspaper, but for the village and for the region nearby. Yes there are two volumes in the Images of America series of “history” books, one covering the Village of Cold Spring and the other of the West Point Foundry, which are fine for what they are, largely historic photographic journals of their respective subjects.

      It should not be unusual or unexpected for a newspaper to focus its energies and its pages on recent events and recent episodes, i.e., that which is “newsworthy.” Thus it would fall to some other agency to facilitate, support, sustain, even subsidize an effort toward records and historical syntheses with broader, more comprehensive, and even academic and dispassionate standards then those which are cavailable to us. I believe an interest and some market exists.

      There is considerable local architectural and archeological evidence and artifacts. Sadly, however, the evidence slowly over the years and decades are degraded, or modified, or removed and lost. The recent tragic, unexplained and ill-documented as well as ill-reported, unjustified demolition of the original 1814 mill and factory in what is now the City of Beacon, possibly the only extant structure in the region of a work site four stories tall built wholly of uncut stones, is a horrific example of this process. The potential mine of an oral history record is also degraded bit by bit, year by year. Undoubtedly there also exist considerable paper documents of all kinds scattered about, including, yes, archives of newspapers.

      • You bring up a good point. For what it’s worth (not much), here’s a link to the Putnam County Historian. As with every agency that is run by the County, don’t get your hopes up trying to get the information you are looking for. Good luck!