Archived Story

Newspaper building should be ‘leader’ in downtown restoration

Published 6:33pm Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Nostalgia can be the proverbial double-edged sword. It is important that we don’t get bogged down with a singular-focused love of the past, instead incorporating that passion for heritage into building a foundation for the future.

That is certainly the case when it comes to the Leader Publications building, a structure that I hope can recapture some of its historical grandeur and be a shining example of the renovation efforts in downtown Niles.

In reality the Leader building — a behemoth that takes up half the block between Sycamore and Main, and Fourth and Fifth streets — is three distinctly different structures that have been joined over the years. This creates a unique set of challenges.

The building remains a vital part of the entire Michiana community because it is the base of Leader’s operations that include printing six newspapers: the Niles Daily Star, the Dowagiac Daily News, the Edwardsburg Argus, the Cassopolis Vigilant, Off The Water and The Leader. The building is also the home of the Niles Entrepreneurial & Culinary Incubator — an entity that has some really great things cooking, so to speak — and Off Main Street Salon where Deb and the ladies do a great job of keeping people like me clean cut and not looking too scruffy.

Undertaking a renovation project of this scale won’t be easy and it certainly will not happen overnight. It will require patience, vision and diligence by all involved.

But that doesn’t mean developing a long-term building renovation plan that helps preserve the historical look of the building while making it a more attractive part of the downtown landscape isn’t something worth doing.

Our primary areas of emphasis will include improvements to the façade, awnings, brickwork, sidewalks and signage.

I would love to see more photos of the building and the rest of Fourth Street. I have several but would welcome more from readers who remember downtown Niles and the Pickwick Club in its heyday. Feel free to send me electronic versions or stop by the office so I can scan them.

Lots of great things are happening along Main Street and nearby in Niles. We want to be part of that progress.

The past should never get in the way of the future. If both can be incorporated into a forward direction, then everyone wins.

Michael Caldwell is the publisher of Leader Publications LLC. He can be reached at (269) 687-7700 or by email at

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