June 5, 2009

Bristol Press moving up Main Street

View of the new home for The Bristol Press. It's on the right side of the three-story brick building, between the parked car and the alley.

After more than a century in its 99 Main St. quarters, The Bristol Press is moving out.

The paper plans soon to shift its operations to a storefront two blocks away.

“We have to modernize and move with the times,” Publisher Michael Schroeder said Friday.

Mayor Art Ward hailed Schroeder’s willingness to remain downtown and for stepping in to save the paper.

“We’re just ecstatic that the paper is still alive and active in the community,” the mayor said.

When Schroeder’s Central Connecticut Communications purchased The Bristol Press, The Herald of New Britain and three weeklies in January, it did not buy the buildings that housed any of the papers.

The Pennsylvania-based Journal Register Co. still owns the building where the Press has been for 102 years. The bankrupt company, which had threatened to close the daily if a buyer didn’t emerge last winter, has long indicated it would like to sell the property.

“It’s a viable corner for the right type of business,” Ward said.

Schroeder said the longtime Press building is no longer efficient because it was erected for an industrial operation -- printing newspapers and other material -- that hasn’t been done in Bristol since the JRC bought the Press in 1994.

Since the building is so large, he said, those working in it are “like little silos” in the vast expanse of a structure that’s much bigger than is necessary to put together a paper.

Schroeder, who looked at a number of possible sites, said he wanted to stay downtown.

“It’s a commitment to the community,” he said, and has the advantage of being close to City Hall, the police station and other sources of news.

The new location at 184 Main St., Schroeder said, also make for a good, central spot for people to come to the paper from across town.

The new location was last used as a dance studio, but has been the home of many businesses over the years, including Larre’s Jewelers. One door down from a computer store, the spot is a stone’s throw from the Greater Bristol Chamber of Commerce’s office.

Schroeder said he recognizes the emotional attachment many people have to the Press’s 99 Main St. home for so many years -- where lots of people have memories of the press churning in the large windows facing Riverside Avenue or the busy times when carriers spread out from its loading dock -- but business reality dictates moving to a space that’s more suited to the paper as it is today.

About 20 people will work out of the new quarters, which include a couple of second floor offices, the publisher said.

Schroeder said he plans to “freshen up” the appearance of the 184 Main St. office and to find ways to make it attractive.

The move is slated to take place this month, the publisher said.

The landlord, Tom Zipp, said the Press began renting the space on May 1. He said the paper found its existing building too costly to maintain.

The Bristol Press began publication with a hand-operated press in March 1871 in the second story of a wooden building near the railroad track. The paper moved into a two-story brick building at 99 Main St. in 1907, where it stayed through several major renovations.

Throughout its 138-year history, it has been headquartered in downtown Bristol. Indeed, it has always been within sight of the railroad crossing on Main Street.

When the Press moves this month, leaving behind the castoffs of generations of newspaper men and women, that will still be true.


I confess to mixed feelings about moving. This building we're in is, unfortunately, a dump. It hasn't been maintained much in many years. It would break my late friend Bart Barnes' heart to see what's happened to it. 

Moreover, it is altogether true that the building is no longer suitable for a paper that doesn't need so much space. And yet it is the place where The Bristol Press grew from a tiny weekly into a bustling daily, into a leader of community journalism for generations. It's been at the center of the city's history for longer than anyone can remember.

But I am sure that Bart would embrace the possibilities that come with change, the hope that a paper that was nearly dead may find a new life in a new place. We're all eager to see our dreams for its comeback turn to a solid reality.

There are lots of changes in the works, all of them aimed at finding a way for the paper to survive and thrive. The move is merely one of them. Please, embrace the effort involved in salvaging the Press from its evil former owners. Help Mike Schroeder make the Press a proud institution again.

Bristol needs its newspaper.

Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.
Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com


Anonymous said...

Hey Steve, I'm happy the paper is still here to move to a new spot. You and Jackie deserve a lot of credit for making it possible ---- and of course Mike Schroeder, too. He's the one with the money!
I want to take the chance to thank you for trying so hard to keep the paper alive. I'm sure that was a hard time for you and your family but you put Bristol first when a saner man would have spent his time finding a better job.

Anonymous said...

mORE EMPTY SPACE IN BRISTOL.The town must need that property liked they needed the mall. Bigger hard times coming without serious layoffs.

Anonymous said...


It must have been painful to use that "evil former owner's" name after having vowed not to do so.

Good luck in the new space!

Anonymous said...

They're going to fit 20 of you in there? How?

Anonymous said...

Steve is gonna have to lose a few pounds if he wants to fit comfortably in his new office :->
Just kidding Steve, I'm 6'1" and 300 pounds with no room to talk. Those damn Harvest Bakery donuts do it every time.

Anonymous said...

Interesting juxtaposition of articles, this one and the previous one.

Any relationship???

Anonymous said...

Too bad.

Anonymous said...

Thought you were moving to 225 N. Main St.?

Steve Collins said...

The owner decided to stay on Main Street.

Anonymous said...

what about the New Britain herald and their crew?