On Saturday, the Niagara Gazette began moving its operations to Third Street and Ferry Avenue, the former New York Telephone Co. building that once housed among its tenants the local office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Meanwhile, “310 Niagara St.” has been quietly shutting down, its future in the hands of the new owner, Carl Paladino, the Buffalo developer who also owns the upscale Giacomo, a hotel and condo complex that originally formed the United Office Building.
The Gazette building was opened in 1914, the year President Wilson was pledging to keep us out of war. Later, it would be billed as the war to make the world safe for democracy.
For decades, those now-idled presses in the basement rolled off stories of other conflicts, ranging from wars around the globe, the Roaring 20s and the Great Depression among other earth-shaking events. It noted the rapid growth of industry that at one point made Niagara Falls the “Electro-Chemical Capital of America,” the record 102,000 population of the city in the 1960 census, the collapse of the former Schoellkopf Power Station and the building of the $720 million Niagara Project, the endless frustrations of urban renewal, and the advent of casino gambling through a treaty that turned over the convention center and 55 acres of prime downtown property to the Seneca Nation of Indians.
This newspaper, founded as a weekly in 1854 by William Pool and Benjamin F. Sleeper, was first published in Columbian Hall, 350 Main St., and operated from several other sites (atop the Arcade Mart and the Arcade Building on Falls Street, the Allen Block, First Street, and the Lindsey Block, Third Street) before moving to the Niagara Street location in 1915.
Alanson C. Deuel, who started his newspaper career as a printer’s helper on the Hamburg, N.Y., Independent, came to Niagara Falls in 1895 to take charge of the printing department at the Gazette. He took ownership of the newspaper in 1911 and continued in that capacity until his death, Oct. 19, 1954. Subsequently, the Gannett Newspaper Group of Rochester acquired the Gazette and operated it for some 40 years until the present owner, Community Newspaper Holdings Inc., of Montgomery, Ala., purchased it in 1998.
Like the roll call in James Hilton’s classic novel, “Goodbye, Mr. Chips,” the names now appear as ships in the passing night. While the publishers, editors and reporters are generally better known to readers and the community, the printed product in the pre-computer era was traditionally the combined daily efforts of the behind-the-scenes work force, printers, compositors, stereotypers (casting plates), the pressmen, advertising, circulation, business, and maintenance department staffs. In their own way, they all a hand in producing the newspaper that in more prosperous days carried a memorable slogan across the top of the front page: “King of Power, Queen of Beauty.”
The names are surely embedded in the 101-year-old building. Many are gone now, some still working in the media, others scattered to parts unknown. For those of us who can recall the rosters from the late 1950s, a number of names jump out: Belasco, Berrigan, Branche, Brown, Bryant (syndicated columnist and author), Campbell, Condren, Crogan, DeVivo, Dineen, Donaldsons, Doran, Farrell, Francis, Fraser, Gates, Hanchette (Pulitzer Prize winner), Hewitt, Higgins, Hoyt, Hunt, Kay, Keller, Kostoff, Lowe, McGrath, Mitchell, Mizer, Morgan, Ognibenes, Ormsby, Quinlan, Riorden, Shaw, Spieler, Swift, Utts, Webber, Williams and Wolcott, to name a few.
A story was often told by an executive of a New York City-based printing press company that the Gazette’s new six-unit Goss press was purchased in the 1950s by Gazette owner Deuel who had been strolling along a Manhattan street when he suddenly spotted the type of press he wanted displayed in a store front window. Inside, when a sales person asked if he could help. Deuel never hesitated, saying “I want exactly that press that’s in the window.” A short time later, the press was installed at the Niagara Street site where it was capable of producing 45,000 papers per hour using one to four colors.
It was said at the time that some metropolitan papers had larger presses than Deuel’s but none were more modern and so fully equipped. With the new press installed, the Gazette circulation soon reached a record circulation of nearly 32,000 daily, a figure slightly exceeded during the influx of several thousand laborers for the Niagara Project.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Don Glynn has a half-century link to the newspaper, beginning in the late 1950s when work started on the Niagara Power Project. Before that, he was a high school correspondent for the sports department and a summer intern as a news reporter. He also delivered the three-cent Gazette in the 1940s.
Move to Third Street is beginning of new era for Gazette. OPINION, 6A