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 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 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 preproduction 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.
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.
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.