LEWISTON – One day in 1861, Nelson Dingley, editor of the Lewiston Falls Journal, took note of men moving a wooden building past his office and toward the bank of the nearby Androscoggin River, destined for a vacant lot where it would no longer get in the way of new construction.

The Lewiston Falls Journal offices in the 1850s, its second location in the city. From an advertisement for J.C. Cook & Bro.

Fourteen years earlier, in 1847, the little structure had housed the first office of the newspaper, the place where the inaugural edition of the Journal rolled off a little hand-cranked press, the first pages of millions that would follow in the dailies it ultimately spawned.

But even in 1861 with the Civil War just heating up, Dingley knew enough to honor the roots of the paper he had purchased just four years earlier.

Watching the building crawl past his view toward Main Street, he wrote, “We felt as though it ought to be treated kindly for the good it has done in the past.”

Feeling some of that same sense of nostalgia and respect toward its longtime quarters, the Sun Journal, the latest incarnation of that tiny weekly, this month picked up and moved out of the building at 104 Park St. that’s housed the paper’s operations for generations.

The newspaper’s new office, on the second floor at 64 Lisbon St., is only the ninth location for the Journal, the Sun or the Sun Journal in the past 175 years – and the first new one since 1926.


Every location either paper has operated out of is within a short walk in downtown Lewiston.

The paper’s latest home, in a former store that served most recently as a call center, is only about 900 feet from the spot where the first issue of the Journal emerged so many years ago.

It’s less than a football field away from the site where the Journal Block held sway for six decades through the Dingley years.

It’s only slightly further from the lot on Park Street that housed the Sun since 1898, where the Journal also moved in nearly a century ago.

In short, the paper has a new address, but its home is, as it has always been, in the heart of Lewiston.


One day in 1945, Alice Frost Lord must have felt nostalgic.


For a piece on Holman Day, a famous writer in the early 20th century, Lord recalled how the legendary newsman would sit “on the edge of his desk in the old Lewiston Journal block at the head of Lisbon Street, swinging his free foot lazily and spinning yarns for casual callers or members of the staff.”

In that little newsroom, long vanished, Day and Lord hobnobbed with senators, governors, the famed Editor Frank Dingley Jr., and young journalists like Harry L. Andrews, who ultimately led the Los Angeles Times.

The Lewiston Evening Journal’s office on Lisbon Street during the late 1800s. Lewiston Evening Journal

The Journal, in her telling, offered a sort of magical entrée to astonishing talent and interesting times.

But it wasn’t always that way, then or now.

Frank Fremont Towle first went to work for the Journal on May 8, 1870, as an office boy, a position that basically had him running around all day doing errands nobody else had any desire to do.

As an old man, Towle recalled that his first task each morning at the paper was “to take a wheelbarrow and two big milk cans and go either to the town pump,” where a watering trough was available on Main Street not too far from today’s Central Maine Medical Center, or down the hill to a spring in Frye’s Woolen Mill yard near the river. Wherever he opted to go, Towle said, he had to fill the milk cans to provide the day’s drinking water for thirsty journalists.


Next, Towle said, he’d head over to Willard Small’s bookstore above the Elm Hotel in Auburn and pick up copies of the Portland Argus and the Portland Republican, because it never hurts to see what the competition is doing.

Then it was off to the post office for Towle, where he gathered up the mail and copies of newspapers from around the state and the country that arrived daily as part of a lively exchange among ambitious editors like Dingley.

Thursdays were the big day for the Journal at the time, Towle told Arch Soutar, a reporter who wrote up the man’s memories in 1947. Towle had to arrive at 3 a.m. to operate the folding machine that ensured some 18,000 copies of the Weekly Journal were ready to take to the train station so subscribers could get them on time later in the day.

He took a wheelbarrow full of them to the postmaster as well.

But Towle wasn’t getting off that easy.

He then had a delivery route that required him to bring copies individually to businesses and residents from the river to the old bleachery, where Quoddy moccasins are produced those days on Lisbon Street.


Sometimes Towle would get lucky and William Pidgin, a Journal executive who dealt with payments to the paper, would send him off on a private errand. That would earn him an extra dime, serious cash to a young lad in 1870.

What a view of life Towle had: the muddy street outside, telegraphs coming and going, writers and editors chasing the news of a small city on the make, the presses churning, and a composing room showcased inside the front window on Lisbon Street, where old-timers who could read Greek would fill trays with ever-changing type to print the day’s news.

Times change, though. That old building has been gone for decades.

The only remnant of its existence on Google Maps is a path marked “Journal Alley” between Androscoggin Bank and J. Dostie Jewelers. It doesn’t look like much, to be sure, but there is something comforting in seeing that even today some remnant of that storied past remains.

The Journal itself moved out in 1926 when the Costello family purchased it and shifted its operations to 104 Park St., where it shared a building with the Sun.

The 104 Park St. offices of the Lewiston Daily Sun and the Lewiston Evening Journal in the fall of 1926, shortly after the two papers came under joint ownership. Sun Journal



The Sun, which began as an opposition daily to the Republican-backing Journal, first set up shop in 1892 in a little place, long gone, on Ash Street, between Park and Lisbon streets.

Then it moved in 1895 a short distance to the newly finished McGillicuddy Block, on the corner of Ash and Lisbon streets, which still stands as a fine example of late Victorian architecture. The newspaper’s office there was above Murphy’s Hat and Fur store on the street level.

The McGillicuddy Building at the corner of Ash and Lisbon streets in Lewiston as it looked in 2014 after a renovation. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal file

Next, the Sun moved to an old brick building near the corner of Lisbon and Main streets, but the location didn’t work out well. The Sun’s drum cylinder press shook the old structure so badly that the landlord hastily ordered the paper to get out before the place fell apart.

After so much moving about in its first six years, the paper then settled into one half of the first floor of the wooden Stanley building at 104 Park St., a location that changed a great deal in the years that followed, but the Sun stuck with it from 1898 until this month.

Most of the building contained, surprisingly, the Lewiston Armory.

When the Sun moved into the three-story, wooden building on Park Street, it shared the first floor with a company called Standard Dry Plate, a factory churning out photographic materials invented by F.E. Stanley of Auburn.


The Stanley twins at the wheel of their steam-driven car. Private collection

The Stanley brothers sold it to Eastman Kodak, which went on to make a fortune from it, but the Stanleys did just fine. In Boston, they soon invented the Stanley Steamer, the best of the early steam-driven automobiles. In 1900, they drove the first one into Maine, leaving Boston with the aim of visiting the Court Street, Auburn, home of Frank Dingley, editor of the Journal.

Locals were convinced the car had real promise when it proceeded up Goff Hill.

While the Stanleys left town for greater fame and fortune, the armory stayed upstairs in the building until 1922, drilling troops during hours when most of the news staff wasn’t around.

In 1926, the old Stanley building vanished as the new owners erected a new brick frontage that filled 100 feet facing Park Street and extensively remodeled everything inside. If anything was left of the old dry plate factory, nobody could say where it was.

Over the years, the paper swallowed up an old telephone company structure next door and then added a huge distribution center in its rear. It needed all the space in its heyday.

A 1970 photograph, taken with a fisheye lens, showing the Sun Journal building and Park Street. Lewiston Evening Journal



It will come as no shock to readers or the community that by 2022 the Sun Journal didn’t need as much space as it once did.

Its printing was being done in South Portland and its staff had shrunk since its prime in the 1980s, a victim of a changing economy that socked newspapers across the country.

So about two weeks ago, on the first Friday of December, the paper picked up and moved to a nearby spot renovated less than a decade ago for a call center firm that is no longer in the 64 Lisbon St. structure. The space was originally built in 1911 to house the S.S. Kresge five-and-dime store. It also had many offices for lawyers and others on its second floor, where the newspaper has set up shop.

George Barney Soule, a Lewiston Evening Journal typesetter, at work in 1940. Lewiston Evening Journal

Before leaving Park Street, a couple of reporters pawed through the debris of more than a century that filled room after room: file cabinets, signs, broken décor, a box of old sports books and, most surprisingly, a 1980 computer that was still controlling some critical utility function.

No ghosts were seen.

What stands out, as it does with every move, are the memories tied to a particular place, the people who once gathered news and set type and sold advertising and carried out the invaluable work of a daily newspaper poking around its community.


There’s always sadness in leaving.

But what the history of the Sun and the Journal shows clearly is that a newspaper never sits still. It is constantly changing, like the community it covers.

And as the Sun Journal settles into its nifty new quarters with big windows and a view of Lisbon Street, its owners and staff hope to find as much reward and excitement in what’s ahead as the newspaper has seen in its long, storied past.

The paper’s first editor, Francis Lane, once said in the Lewiston Falls Journal that it would keep rolling off the presses as long as it made at least a little money.

For 175 years, some flush and some not, it’s done well enough.

May it long prosper.

A Google map showing every known location for offices of the Sun Journal and its predecessor papers. Steve Collins/ Sun Journal

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