American relocates its Water Street office

ELLSWORTH — For 90 years — more than half its 170-year history — The Ellsworth American has done business at 30 Water St. No longer. The sale of the building was completed this fall and on Tuesday the last employees working there relocated.

The newsroom has moved into a newly renovated space in the newspaper’s production building at 1 Printing House Square, directly behind the 30 Water St. building. The newly refurbished front office will be next door at the former Hidden Vibez Taproom (previously Chummies). The former bar also will be home to REACH Maine Marketing, the company’s website design and online marketing agency. Gone are the sprawling wooden bar and taps, replaced with freshly painted workspaces and a spacious front office where the public can purchase papers or inquire about classified advertising. The office is scheduled to open Thursday, Dec. 2, after a brief closure to facilitate the move.

The decision to sell the historic brick building on Water Street was both poignant and practical. Maintaining two large buildings was expensive and space needs have changed over the years. Technological advances in the printing press operation freed up room that used to be needed for pre-production equipment. And, since moving the press would be a massive undertaking (the building was built around it), it made sense to reconfigure and renovate the production building to house most employees.

“Our goal is to provide our readers with the best, and most comprehensive local journalism and community news,” said Publisher Chris Crockett. “While we will miss our offices at 30 Water Street, our refreshed spaces and new customer service location will keep us on track and focused on our readers. Personally, I will not miss those cold, wintery walks across the parking lot in January! And please be patient with us as we continue to settle into our new location in the coming months.”

Lisabeth Chester-Oxman, who was raised in Bar Harbor, purchased the Water Street building.

She said she “plans to restore the building back to its historic design front, bringing rental units to the second floor and a specialty community-oriented retail store to the first floor.”

Chester-Oxman noted “the increasing energy and potential of the flourishing of Main Street” and said she looks forward to joining the Ellsworth business community and its growing list of business entrepreneurs.

The Ellsworth American moved to 30 Water St., the former Clark & Davis building, in September 1931. Before that, since 1900, the office had been on the third floor of the former Union Trust Co. building at the corner of Main and State streets. There were several moves prior. At the time of its 1851 founding, the office was on the south side of Main Street.

“For the first time in the seventy-seven years of its life, The Ellsworth American is in a home of its own, where it bids fair to outlive several more generations of men,” wrote then-Editor William H. Titus in an editorial at the time of the 1931 move to Water Street.

“If you think it an easy matter to move a newspaper office, which involved the dismantling and reassembling of printing presses and the moving of many heavy pieces of machinery and innumerable cases of type and smaller articles that must be handled carefully, then — well, ‘ask the man who drives one,’” he continued. “To do this between two editions of the paper, without the necessity of calling upon the good services of our neighbor, the Bar Harbor Times — services which, by the way, were kindly and voluntarily offered — is an accomplishment of which we may well feel proud.”

In 1995, former Ellsworth American publisher and owner Alan Baker started construction of 1 Printing House Square, the two-story building that houses The American’s printing press, advertising, design and now news departments. So that production could continue uninterrupted, the structure was framed around the existing press and mailroom building and then the old building was demolished and removed. Not an hour of printing time was lost.

While this most recent move and renovation project were not without disruptions for staff, it was business as usual in terms of meeting deadlines and getting the paper out each and every week.

“A thank you goes out to the entire staff, our customers and the community for supporting our decision to reduce our footprint and allowing us to better invest our financial resources into the future of the newspaper,” said General Manager Kathy Cook.

Cyndi Wood

Cyndi Wood

Managing Editor
Cyndi is managing editor of The Ellsworth American. The Ellsworth native joined the staff of The American in 2007 as a reporter.
Cyndi Wood

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