Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Give our regards to Broadway

This is the last paper produced at our 1360 Broadway address. As you read this we have already moved to 2889 Ray Lawyer Drive.

We’ve been at our Broadway location for 21 years and four months, having moved here Dec. 7, 1991.

The two locations tell a tale about Placerville and changing times. Placerville is an historical town that never stands still. Our Broadway office was originally a Safeway grocery store. One of our ad reps even remembers where the different departments were. The editor’s desk is where the meat display used to be. Don’t send us any e-mails about butchered grammar. Thank you, very much.

When Safeway moved to the County Fair Shopping Center in 1979 it was a big deal. Then this building was taken over by Blue Shield insurance. Recently a photo was found in one of our files that showed all 18,000 square feet of the building full of desks in a wide open office. Now that all our partitions have been knocked down we look like a smaller version of that photo.

Blue Shield moved on and we eventually moved in. Safeway also moved on to Missouri Flat Road and Big Lots took over the old Safeway store that got so much press in 1979.

The Ray Lawyer Drive building at the corner of Placerville Drive into which we are moving is another story of change. It was originally a bank building, then it was a Blockbuster video building. Blockbuster is gone and as a corporation it is greatly shrunken. Hollywood Video at Prospector Plaza is now a ballet studio. The two big video chains were undone by Netflix’s mailed DVDs and now digital downloads from Netflix, iTunes and Act 1 video is the last place in town a person can rent a DVD or even buy a music CD.

Our business has changed. Originally we thought we would use half of our building for a press, but that never penciled out. We did have a big insertion machine that put all the sections and advertising inserts together. That, too, is gone. We have centralized insertion and labeling in Fairfield, where our paper is printed. We transmit the paper digitally over the phone lines, something we have been doing for quite a while.

That is a change. For about the first 10 years we were here we pasted up the news columns on a blue line page after running them through a heated waxing machine. In the summer we put the pages into a folder insulated by Styrofoam to keep the wax from melting in the back of the unair-conditioned van as it drove to the press in Davis. Photographers made halftone prints with a vacuum easel in the darkroom.

Now we had a hard time finding someone to give the enlarger away to. All photography is done with digital cameras, which have become very sophisticated and much more affordable.

So, we are moving to smaller quarters because we now have a lot of space we don’t need. It is the seventh location for the Mountain Democrat. Moving is not a new thing for this paper. We began in  Coloma in June 1851 as the El Dorado News. On Dec. 6, 1851 the News moved to Placerville and the paper was renamed the El Dorado Republican. New owners took over and renamed it the Mountain Democrat, producing the first paper under that name on Feb. 25, 1854. The office was on Coloma Street over the graves of the three men hanged from the oak tree in Herrick’s hay yard.

In 1879 the Mountain Democrat moved to Main Street, two doors west of the Cary House. That location later became a funeral parlor and furniture store. Only 10 years later, in 1889, the Democrat moved next to Placerville Hardware and stayed there for 102 years, though we moved a fifth time by spreading out into the old Mother Lode Bank building that now houses a needle craft shop and an empty store where Tony Mathews had a household goods business. The Hardware Store bought our historical 443 Main Street building and expanded, adding a popular housewares and knickknacks section.

Our seventh location is a beautifully spiffed up building, tastefully done inside and out. We look forward to seeing you there. Taking our place here on Broadway is Tractor Supply, which will be a great addition to Broadway and a sales tax generator for the city. We’re pleased to bring you another great business instead of an empty building.

So long, Broadway. You’ve been great to us. Hello, Placerville Drive.

Mountain Democrat


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