Jeff Brown’s family has a long history in Columbus -- they’ve published newspapers here since the 19th century. But they also made their mark on the modern architecture of the city with the Republic building. Brown will discuss this significant landmark at the Making & Maintaining session of “Foundations and Futures,” chaired by Tricia Gilson.
Brown is President of Travel Indiana LLC, a media company serving the Indiana tourism industry. For 17 years, Brown served as CEO of Home News Enterprises, the parent company to The Republic newspaper founded by his family in 1872. Brown has also served as president of the Inland Press Association, a not-for-profit organization committed to ensuring the quality of small and medium sized publications and is currently serving as President of PAGE, a national newspaper buying cooperative. Brown earned a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Management at Purdue University and a MBA from Denver University.
The Brown family has provided news and other media to the Columbus community for over a century. Jeff Brown’s great-grandfather, Isaac T. Brown, founded the The Columbus Republican newspaper in 1872, eventually evolving into The Republic in 1969. Robert N. Brown, built upon The Republic’s heritage and created Home News Enterprises which owned and operated several newspapers around the state. Under the direction of Jeff Brown, Home News Enterprises expanded its presence in the niche publication, commercial printing and digital news markets. Home News Enterprises was recently sold by the Brown family but Jeff continues his media heritage with his recent acquisition of Travel Indiana Magazine
While the Millers are rightly celebrated, they aren’t the only Columbus family to act as patrons of modern architecture. The Browns are responsible for the Republic offices and printing plant, one of Columbus’ modern landmarks. Completed in 1971, the building was commissioned by Jeff’s father Robert Brown and designed by architect Myron Goldsmith of the firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM). The building’s central location on the courthouse square and its glass walls were chosen to symbolize the transparency of the free press and its role in democracy. Originally, the bright yellow printing press was located behind those glass walls, letting Columbus residents see the news being printed as they passed by on busy 2nd Street. In 2012, The Republic building was designated a National Historic Landmark for its status as “an exceptional work of modern architecture and one of the best examples of the work of Myron Goldsmith . . . a highly respected architect, architectural theorist, writer, and educator.” The building remained home to The Republic’s offices until very recently, when the property was acquired by an affiliate of Columbus Regional Health.
As a newspaperman and the long-time steward of an architecturally significant building, Jeff Brown understands what it means to make and maintain in Columbus. Brown says, “Columbus’s architectural heritage has served it well for many years. Now we have the challenge of maintaining those treasured landmarks and institutions.” He adds, “I hope that Exhibit Columbus will help raise the level of awareness in our community about the importance of architectural preservation for future generations.” Exhibit Columbus will answer his call to arms—it is committed to highlighting the importance of maintaining the city’s landmarks while also furthering its legacy of making through the Miller Prize competition.