Hatch Show Print, country music landmark, finds new home

Photo By Nikki Miller
Its roots can be traced back over a century ago to a spot just a hop, skip and jump from the Twin Cities. And on Monday, the venerable Nashville poster shop Hatch Show Print announced that it's on the move again, this time to the Country Music Hall of Fame. Established in 1879, Hatch Show Print is believed to be the oldest active poster print shop in the country.

Currently located in downtown Nashville, it's known for its posters for the Grand Ole Opry, which for the last seven-plus decades has been one of its most famous clients. Hatch Show's characteristic woodblock prints are striking in their minimalism, and have inspired a resurgence of a medium you today see everywhere from big-city rock concert flyers to every-hipster-you-know's wedding invitation. And it all started across the river in Prescott, Wisconsin.

It was in that river town that reverend and businessman William H. Hatch ran his own print shop, and apprenticed his sons, Charles R. and Herbert H., in the craft of letterpress printmaking. In 1875, William moved the family to Nashville and shortly thereafter, his sons founded CR and HH Hatch at what is now the corner of Fifth and Deaderick, between the State Capitol and the town's famous Printer's Alley. It was there that they printed what is believed to be their first 6x9 handbill - an ad for an April 1879 appearance at the Grand Opera House by Rev. Henry Ward Beecher, famed abolitionist and brother of writer Harriet Beecher Stowe.

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Over the years, the shop printed posters for everything from baseball games, vaudeville shows, and country and jazz concerts to ads for grocery stores, filling stations and movie theaters, and in 1921, Charles' son Will T. Hatch took over the family business, moving it to 116 Fourth Avenue North, right behind the Ryman Auditorium. Within a decade, Hatch posters could be seen on barns and storefronts all over the region. The business went into decline after Will Hatch died in 1952, and after changing hands several times, Hatch Show Print experienced a revival when then-owner Gaylord Entertainment donated it to the Country Hall of Fame and Museum, moving it to its current location on Broadway in 1992 when its previous location was to be razed.

Nikki Miller

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