The Will A. Beach Printing Company at Phillips and Seventh in Sioux Falls in 1927. (Photo: GreetingsFromSiouxFalls.com)
William A. Beach was born in Sullivan County, Pennsylvania on May 2, 1862. Seven years later, he moved with his parents to Des Moines, then a few years later, to Emmetsburg, Iowa. He attended public schools and graduated from a commercial college in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in the early 1800s. He arrived in Sioux Falls on September 10, 1883, and took a job as a bookkeeper in F. W. Taylor’s hardware store. Two months later he married Lida Barber of West Bend, Wisconsin.
In 1888, a new printing company called Sutton & Allen was founded. It was owned by Ernest Sutton and Charles Allen. There was a near-immediate partnership with the Argus Leader. Customers could lay out playbills, advertisements, books or whatever they needed in the Argus Leader’s offices and Sutton & Allen would quickly print copies of the job on the fastest printing press in the Dakotas.
Will Beach soon invested in the concern, buying out Charles Allen’s share. The new ownership changed the business’ name to Sutton & Beach. This partnership lasted until 1890, when Sutton moved on and Beach bought out his share. At the time, the company was run out of a building at 233 N. Phillips Ave. This building would house the Will A. Beach Printing Company for years to come.
The Will A. Beach Printing Company quickly became the largest and most successful printing company in the area. The business expanded to include the sale of school and office furniture and other needs. Will’s brother Harry joined the staff in 1894 and was made manager of sales.
Looking Back: Blauvelt building housed Dakota Iron Works for 70 years
Beach was very active in several fraternal organizations, as were so many prominent business owners in the early 1900s. It was an excellent way to spend one’s leisure time and a wise way to accumulate business associates and clients. He was a member of the International Order of Odd Fellows, the Masonic Temple, the Knights of Pythias, and the Elks Lodge. In the original organization of the YMCA, he was a board member and active advocate.
In December of 1936, Harry Beach died in Florida, where he’d gone in hopes of recovering his health. In April of 1942, Will Beach died of pneumonia in the wake of two strokes suffered in as many years. He was fondly remembered for his philanthropy and warm spirit. Lida died three years later.
Looking Back: John Deere operated out of downtown Sioux Falls building for 50 years
The Will A. Beach Printing Company went on, run by those who had, for years, been keeping the presses going. The company even opened a new stationery store at 222 S. Phillips. This was the best place to pick up those much-needed back-to-school items and letter writing supplies. The company was purchased by Midwest Printing Company in late 1946 and the name changed to Midwest Beach.
At the end of 1958, Midwest Beach closed the stationery store, moving its stock back to the storefront on north Phillips.
In July of 1971, the Urban Renewal Agency paid $287,903 for the Midwest Beach building. By this point, the company had ceased printing operations and was focusing on the sale of pre-printed items and office supplies. The company made a move to the northwest corner of Ninth and Minnesota, to what had been known as the L&L Motor Supply building. The company would be bankrupt by the middle of 1973.
A parking ramp associated with the Downtown Holiday Inn now stands at the location once occupied by the Will A. Beach Printing Company building. Urban renewal in the early 1970s destroyed many buildings, some memorable and historic, others more easily forgotten. It’s important to remember the lessons of urban renewal as we move forward, so that no pieces of Sioux Falls’ history are lost without knowing the cost.
Read or Share this story: https://www.argusleader.com/story/news/business-journal/2019/05/23/looking-back-will-beach-printing-sioux-falls-eric-renshaw/1204925001/