Moving newspaper is not just a building move
Sunday, March 24, 2019
There’s a lot of ongoing discussion about whether Elizabeth City and Pasquotank County, jointly, should buy our building and make it the new senior center. Forgive that reference to “our building.” It’s due to a lingering habit of ownership; I’m now a renter. Honestly, talk of who might be occupying my office next takes some getting used to.
The building that we occupy on the corner of Water and Church streets has been a nice home for the last 15 years. No one here is at all particularly eager to move from the location that offers great access and spectacular vistas of our harbor and the Pasquotank River. Prying loose from long-refined attachments to the surroundings and habits that come from knowing the nearby businesses, people and familiar walking routes won’t come easily.
As most know, the former owners of The Daily Advance, the Cooke family, retained ownership of the building when the newspaper was sold last August to Adams Publishing Group. Since then, the Cooke’s have put 215 S. Water Street on the market. Not long from now, an individual or group — maybe the city and county — will eventually close the deal and begin a new era and a new purpose for this corner.
By then our operations will be up and running elsewhere. The Daily Advance is shopping buildings from which we will be able to continue the business of local journalism, advertising sales and distribution. Wherever we end up, the 100-plus year-old legacy that our founder Herbert Peele started back in 1911 -- with not much more than the shirt on his back and an optimistic passion for newspapering in Elizabeth City -- will continue.
Peele’s operations began just a stone’s toss from where we are now -- the northwest corner of Fearing and Water streets. It’s really amazing how The Advance has remained in a roughly one block area of Elizabeth City for more than a century. Multiple buildings have housed the newspaper’s works during that time -- all confined to the general vicinity where The Advance now sits.
That’s going to change, and staff will be making the adjustments.
Today only a few of us remain whose employment at the Advance predates the current building. One of the newspaper’s former locations at the corner of Poindexter and Church is where I began work in 1978. That flimsy structure was knocked down to make way for parking at the new building. Of my many recollections of that site, two stand out. One is the easy accessibility to all foot traffic on Poindexter. Customers, friends, not-so-friendlies, the lost, etc., they all drifted in and out of our street level offices at will. The new building, with its high-tech security badging and second floor news department, limited much of that.
Another crystallized memory, which had much to do with why the current building was erected, is flooding. A heavy rain would pile up water sufficiently deep to float a bass boat outside the building on Church Street. It was the tropical storms and hurricanes -- Floyd, comes to mind -- however, that bring back many soggy and uncomfortable workplace images.
That building flooded out several times during my tenure. In fact, lines on the wall marking the flood water levels inside the building were popular conversation-starters for visitors and newspaper tours. That is one problem we’ve not had to deal with since moving to the soon-to-be-sold current home of The Daily Advance.
It will not be easy bidding adieu to this substantial structure in a great location where there’s much newspaper history -- mine and others.’
Mike Goodman is the publisher and executive editor of The Daily Advance.