Sometimes, when people ask me where I was born, I like to say 104 Park St., Lewiston. 

It’s not true, of course. I was born in Waterville. But in another way, a very real way, a significant part of my life hadn’t begun until I walked through the doors into that creaky old building for the very first time. 

To me, a young and directionless vagabond, my introduction to 104 Park St. was love at first sight. This, I thought. This is what a newspaper should look like. Ten seconds inside that cluttered, noisy, badly outdated building and I felt like I was where I belonged. 

Those aren’t just words, either. It’s a feeling I remember with utter clarity although nearly 30 years have passed. 

The Sun Journal’s owners announced the newspaper’s offices at 104 Park St. in Lewiston are moving down the street. Judy Meyer/Sun Journal

Being taken on as a freelance reporter at the Sun Journal — tasked with covering the cop beat, no less — was joy for me for a multitude of reasons. But the building itself — that blocky brick edifice looming over the downtown like an all-seeing sentinel — was a very large part of the appeal. Where my dank and dirty, one-room apartment on Shawmut Street didn’t feel like a home at all, 104 Park St. did, and straightaway at that. This veritable downtown castle, with its labyrinthine halls and weirdly sloped floors, felt like home before I had even been given a key to its doors. 

When I first started working at the newspaper, just being allowed inside the building felt like an enormous accomplishment. I mean that, too. Before I started working for the paper, I was more or less an aimless wanderer, with no prospects to speak of and not much of anything at all going on. Mere access to the newsroom was a tremendous thrill. When they gave me a desk, a chair and a computer, I felt like surely there had been some mistake — a mistake that would soon be discovered and back onto the street I would go, like a dirty stray cat that had sneaked in while no one was looking. 


Thrills abounded at 104 Park St. There were thrills within the dark and dusty rooms up on the third floor and upon the long, groaning stairs one was required to climb in order to get there. 

Thrills roared and rumbled in the vast space that housed the presses, which towered like clamorous gods at the back of the building. There were thrills to be found in the cavernous rooms of the advertising department; in the photo department that buzzed like a hive; in the small library where news stretching back more than a century could be found on endless reels of microfilm. 

That beautiful brick wonderland at the corner of Park and Pine streets to me was a temple where one could worship and study all the great mysteries that local history had to offer. I used to gaze down the dark, crooked halls and wonder about all the newsmen who once strode along them. I imagined turn-of-the-century reporters with handlebar mustaches, fancy hats and ascots chasing down the hot news of the day. 

How many chain-smoking editors sat in this very spot, I would muse, yelling at a snarling reporter about word length or the use of too many adverbs in descriptions of that salacious murder across the river in Auburn? 

To me, 104 Park St. teemed with mysteries and I spent, not years but decades exploring them. The address was never just a workplace to me. It was sanctuary. It was home. 

But time marches on no matter how hard you will it not to. The owners of the newspaper have announced that they will abandon the rickety old building in favor of a more modern setting on Lisbon Street. For the first time since 1898, Sun Journal news will swirl out of a location that is not 104 Park St., Lewiston, Maine. 


To the younger Sun Journal reporters and other staff, the news is cause for celebration, and who can blame them? They’ll be moving into a sparkling new place where the ceilings don’t leak, the faucets don’t thump and chug when you turn them on and one doesn’t have to walk a mile to get to a bathroom. 

There will be fewer phantom aromas at the new digs and the floors won’t slope so badly that, if you drop a pen, it will roll at 60 mph into the shadows before you can fetch it. There is a lot to be said about this out-with-the-old and in-with-the-new development.  

It’s just that I won’t be among those popping corks and blowing noisemakers when the move is made. For me, the loss of 104 Park St. will be every bit as dispiriting as would be the loss of my own childhood home. For a time during the transition, I imagine the old building will stand dark and empty — and possibly lonely — at its long-held spot. It will become a place absolutely jammed full of memories but devoid of a single desk, chair or human inhabitant.

As it happens, plans seem to be underway for an entirely new company to move into the building, which has been occupied exclusively by newspaper people for a century and a quarter. This will be unspeakably weird to me. Every single time I venture downtown, I will gaze upon that great building, my home for so long, and agonize to see it occupied by strangers. What interloper will have the audacity to sit in the spot that used to be my desk? What strange cars will park in the back lot where I used to pace and smoke and write news stories in my head?

Very soon, 104 Park St. will belong to someone else and that will be that. My keypad code will no longer open the doors. I will no longer be welcome to visit the empty newsroom in the middle of the night just to feel the vibe of long gone years. The dusty rooms on the upper floors will not be mine to explore anymore and the mysteries lingering there will pass to the next generation.

Of course, it could be worse. With redevelopment all the rage, it’s not out of the question that 104 Park St. will someday perish completely. Sooner or later, the wrecking crews will come for the old building and that will be that. The dust of 124 years will float across the downtown for a day or so and then the winds of progress will blow them away forever.

And when that long-serving building at 104 Park St. finally does succumb to the wrecking ball, one can only imagine the ghosts that will come flapping out of that dust. All the thousands of souls who once spent their most productive hours in the cluttered spaces within. The souls of those whose sad stories came rolling off the Sun Journal presses over the decades, too, may be riled to restlessness when the walls come tumbling down.

I can say all this with some certainty because if there’s one thing I know for sure, it’s that my own spirit resides at 104 Park St. and will remain there long after it’s gone.

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