The Centre Daily Times is the daily newspaper in Centre County. During its more than 120-year history, it has published under different names and different owners.
Like many daily newspapers in small communities around the United States, what began as the State College Times, and later became the Centre Daily Times, began as a weekly newspaper in State College on May 12, 1898. At the time, five other weekly newspapers were published in Centre County.
State College had become a borough just two years earlier. The community had about 400 residents, several stores, two churches, a hotel, and a post office. Across the street, the land-grant college that would become Penn State was taking shape.
The Times was located at 115 South Allen Street, which has housed a variety of businesses since then, including a bank and retail establishments. In 1907, the Times moved around the corner to 108 West College Avenue into a building that had formerly been the home of Nittany Printing and Publishing (the name is chiseled at the top).
Nine years later, the newspaper was purchased by three men, including the Rev. Charles T. Aikens, former president of Susquehanna University. Three generations of Aikens, spanning 63 years, operated the newspaper, including Charles’ brother, James, and only child, Claude G. Aikens, who was born in Pine Grove Mills. Claude served as publisher until he died in 1966. He was succeeded by his son, Charles T. Aikens II, generally known as Tom.
In 1934, the newspaper changed its name to the Centre Daily Times and began publishing six days a week in the afternoon. The next year, two long-time employees joined the staff. The first was Jerome Weinstein, who became the sports editor in 1937 while still a student at Penn State. He was followed by Eugene Reilly, who had also worked at the newspaper as a student. Both Reilly and Weinstein served in the military in World War II and then returned to command the business and news departments until retiring in January 1980.
The newspaper prospered in a new facility at 119 South Fraser Street, its headquarters until 1973 when it moved to a new plant in Dale Summit, built at a cost of $1.4 million. At the time, the circulation was 19,000. Six years after the move, Knight-Ridder, which owned a string of newspapers including the Philadelphia Inquirer and Miami Herald, purchased the Centre Daily Times for $15.5 million.
In 1983, the Times started publishing seven days a week in the afternoon. Following a trend of many newspapers, it became a morning newspaper in 1986. By that time, the only other newspaper still publishing in the county, the Centre Democrat, had closed.
Twenty years later, Knight-Ridder was sold to the McClatchy Co., another newspaper chain, which in 2020 declared bankruptcy and was eventually purchased by Chatham Asset Management, a hedge fund. In the 21st century many community newspapers were no longer the profit centers they had been for decades and were operating with reduced staffs and facilities. The Centre Daily Times was no exception.
The newspaper had begun providing online news in 1996 and by 2011 offered a digital option to subscribers. A paper edition was also available, but in 2020 the printing had been outsourced to a printing plant in Harrisburg and the press at Dale Summit was sold. The building at Dale Summit later was sold to an automobile dealer, and the staff, after working from home during the Covid-19 pandemic, eventually moved to small offices in 2021.
R. Thomas Berner
Brueggegors, Barbara. “Making History: The Times celebrates 100 years of service.” Centre Daily Times, May 10, 1998.
Chesworth, Jo. Story of the Century: The Borough of State College, Pennsylvania, 1896-1996. State College: Borough of State College in cooperation with the Barash Group, 1995.
Hench, Vivian Doty. The History of State College 1896-1946. State College: Centre Daily Times Publications, 1948.
First Published: August 31, 2021
Last Modified: April 21, 2022