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History of the Courier Cafe

In 1837 William Tompkin purchased the land where the Courier Café now stands and about 78 additional acres for $200.00. He erected a two-room log cabin on this site, the first building in what is now known as Urbana.

Two years later, Tompkin deeded the land to Issac Busey, another early settler. The land remained in the Busey family until 1850 when his son-in-law sold the land to Wilson Lewis for $270.00.

In 1916 Alvin T. Burrows, the owner of the Courier Newspaper-then located on South Race St., purchased the land. The Courier newspaper began with the founding of the Champaign County Herald in 1877, a weekly paper serving 35,000 people.

In 1897, with a "reputation second to no country paper," the weekly became a circulation leader and remained so under the new owners Lindsey-Schaub, who bought the paper in 1934.

In the early 50's the building was almost lost to a fire but was saved and rebuilt. There are places where charred timbers are still visible.
In 1962, after many years at successful circulation, the Courier became plagued with problems and on March 31, 1979 closed their doors, bringing to an end one of the few remaining competitive newspaper situations in the United States.

The passing of the Courier Newspaper was especially sad because of a strong bond of friendship of men and women of integrity in an enterprise which sought to make the world more meaningful to those who live in it.

The Courier then remained empty until July 7, 1980 when the current owner of the Courier Café began remodeling the desolated building. Care was taken to preserve as many of the original characteristics of the building as possible. On November 10, 1980, the building again came to life as the Courier Café.

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