The Star building

Dateline: Sun 12 May 2013

It's hard for some of us to believe that investors/developers see value in the old Star/News building, but having read the news in today's Star, it must be so.

Many of us, when we heard that the building was on the market, thought who would want it? -- too much ink stink, possible environmental hazard issues (asbestos and ink so thick it was a brownfields, as former Star copy editor Judy Wolf said). Besides all that, the layout was a maze.

However, gutting the insides and building 500 (!) apartments, putting in a parking garage where the presses used to be, etc., makes sense. The Whitsett Group seems well-poised as developers, since they are already refurbishing the equally funky American Building.

As for where the 650 or so lost souls -- employees -- will re-locate, I'm hearing Market and East Street. Also in the running at various times were the former Nordstrom Building and the Emmis HQ.

But now for fun: if anybody still reads this blog -- sorry, I've had a protuding disc, pinched nerve and pain but am now fit -- and you have memories of the old Star building, fire away.

Here's what I recall: walking into the Star's offices for a first time was like entering a lair. Hallways were well-carpeted and well-lit, but there was an air of going deeper into the bowels, like the Mines of Moria, then stepping down into a "sunken" newsroom (stairs at one point beyond the library and outside the exec editor's office led down the hall).

I remember being weirded out by the Pulliams' super conservative politics/John Birch Society vibe. Thus I suspected that that "units" up in the corners (everywhere) were cameras to spy on all of us. Actually, they were emergency lights, tied to a generator, in case of a power failure...but if they had been cameras, they would only have seen a lot of smoking and joking, and some imbibing and fighting, amidst occasional journalism being committed.

It was an unhealthy building. The air quality sucked, and by the 1980s or so, you couldn't open the windows. All the expensive, flashy, decorating renovations never eliminated the mice and cockrocaches.

Still, it produced journalists who produced Pulitzers and a lot of other good, even excellent, work.


What do you recall?


farm girl [unverified] said:

My introduction to the Star was just before Christmas, many years ago. Someone (I know who but won't say) had been given a bottle of bourbon for Christmas, but dropped it leaving the building, and it broke on the New York Street side steps (inside). Cartoonist Werner was dashing around looking for something in which to catch the drips.
That Star was a wonderful, fun and exciting place to be, and to work.

2013-05-12 19:58:59

varangianguard [unverified] said:

"All the expensive, flashy, decorating renovations never eliminated the mice and cockrocaches."

Jut checking, but you're talking about the ones NOT on retainer, yes?


2013-05-13 05:34:59

Tom Greenacres [unverified] said:

You could walk in any time of day or night and there was activity. After an evening of boozing at the Press club atop the ISTA building, one could wander back to the loading dock and get a Bulldog, and thus be ahead of everybody else in town, in the know. My shared office was in the basement next to the press room. When the presses began rolling, the whole place shook. I could walk through an adjoining door and be in the press room (I wonder if any of the pressmen have any hearing left?)and liked watching the flying paster work. There was so much machinery and mechanical marveling to printing a newspaper back then, with engtaving and linotypes and stereotyping and darkrooms and plating and hot lead and giant web presses...all replaced by oversize desktop printers. The mechanical replaced by the virtual.

Noise and cigarette smoke and telephones and wire machines, the place was a hotbed of energy and ideas.

2013-05-13 06:57:12

ruthholl [Member] said:

The first night I worked on the copy desk, in February of 1978 -- a week after the blizzard -- other copy editors and I walked out into the freezing air at 12:30 a.m. or so in the morning. It was exhilarating...Like Tom said, there was activity: trucks lined up at the dock to deliver papers, men loading them, and just the excitement for me of being in the heart of the city at that hour (while my children were home sleeping). A simple memory, but a good one. Putting out the "bulldog" first edition always brought a smile to my face. The name implied the ferocity that was ours then, and a tenacious pride, emblematic of the name.

2013-05-14 18:22:28

Whitebeard [unverified] said:

Now, it would be called the "chihuahua,"

2013-05-14 19:24:43

Tom Greenacres [unverified] said:

Ruth, one of the things my wife liked best about being a Star reporter was the realization that your day's work was done (and memorialized) when the presses ran. Next day: new start. (Except of course when working on a series.) There was at once a sense of accomplishment and finality at the end of the day, and the promise of something new and possibly interesting the next day.

2013-05-15 15:33:06

Farm Girl [unverified] said:

Second that, T.G. I never once minded going to work.

2013-05-16 11:08:25

George Stuteville [unverified] said:

Third that T.G. I liked the bannisters that were crafted like paper going through printer rollers. The smell of the ink. The rumble of the whole building in the morning when The News started firing up. Grabbing a Bulldog and then going through it at Yodys...

2013-05-17 12:36:23

guy77money [unverified] said:

Only set foot in the building once to place a ad. That being said I used to stop and have a drink at the Front Page (the bar in back of the building) occasionally and read the early edition for free at the bar. I used to enjoy watching the bar tenders make drinks for the guys running the presses and sell them out the back door. I wonder if they traded newspapers for drinks? Even played in one of the golf tourney's with a bunch of Star and News employees that was set up by the Front Page. As I recall a relative of someone at Star owned the Front Page.

2013-05-17 15:48:04

Mr. Gone & Forgotten [unverified] said:

The Golden Years. That's what I call them. The period of time from the late sixties to the late nineties. Very profitable years for the 'paper and the Mail Room with the insert operation. The inserts that fall out of the newspaper when you pulled it out of your mail box made a lot of money for the INI and created a lot of jobs for people working in the Mail Room.
The personalities in that department were unreal and unforgetable. In a way, the Mail Room was a melting pot for every extrovert on this planet.
But the really neat thing about the company was there was a mix of mechanical departments and professonial writing staff that gave the company a profile few other companies will ever experience.
If there was magic at the Star & News, it was this mix of people that made it happen.

2013-05-17 23:32:07

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