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Saratogian Newspaper Moves Out Of Downtown Building

Lucas Willard

Today marked the end of an era in the Capital Region. The Saratogian, a newspaper that has been produced out of its landmark Saratoga Springs location for more than a century, is moving. WAMC’s Southern Adirondack Bureau Chief Lucas Willard visited the downtown building as equipment was being packed up.

The Saratogian will no longer occupy the familiar brick building on the corner of Lake and Maple Avenues. Everything from tables and furniture to a snow blower was being loaded into trucks Friday as the daily newspaper heads to a new location at 7 Wells Street.

Most of the employees were working remotely, but 49-year employee Louise Kilbara was assisting with the move.

“It’s emotional because you feel like you have memories…of a lot of people who are all gone. And you’re the only one left!”

Kilbara is manager of the advertising office. While the Saratogian building has stood for 112 years, it doesn’t quite look the same on the inside as technology has changed.

“Back here were four giant hot-lead machines, where they used to type and it would come out on metal. And then they would roll it up and then paste-up. And this whole end was paste-up.”

The paper stopped printing out of the building years ago – it’s now outsourced. And there are a lot fewer employees than when Kilbara began working here.

“When I came here, there were over a hundred employees. Now you’re down to 25, 30 employees. And most people can work from home now because of the internet,” said Kilbara.

As readership declined, the paper shrank. The paper’s current owner, Digital First Media, sold the building in 2012, though the paper continued to rent out space, just steps from city hall, police headquarters and the bustling downtown.

The company also owns the Troy Record, which shares editorial staff with The Saratogian. The Record has also moved out of its downtown Troy building, now being repurposed as apartments.

Digital First also owns the Oneida Dispatch and Kingston’s Daily Freeman, as well as the Saratoga County-focused weekly Community News.  

Six newsroom employees, including longtime Saratogian Editor Barb Lombardo and Record Editor Lisa Robert Lewis, accepted buyouts two years ago.

Publisher Bob O’Leary, who has led The Saratogian and Record since July 2015, admitted he was not as emotional about the move as some. He’s focused on the move and what’s ahead.

“For me, I’m just looking forward to the new space. It’s nice. You know, we’ve had the place essentially gutted and rebuilt the way we need it, so it’s going to be a fresh, new spot. This building is, I mean, it’s uneven…there’s a lot of quirks to it. But it’s way too big for us,” said O’Leary.

O’Leary said he does not anticipate any changes in staffing as the paper settles into its new location.

“Right now, we are staffed the way we want to be staffed. We’ll see what happens in the future, but right now we’re just looking at this fiscal year to be staffed the way we’re staffed,” said O’Leary.

The Saratogian building that stands today was not the first property occupied by the newspaper, said Saratoga Springs Preservation Foundation Executive Director Samantha Bosshart.

“It was built for the Saratogian but not until 1905. And they started printing in 1855,” said Bosshart.

Bosshart said a fire in 1902 destroyed the paper’s printing plant and offices. The façade of the main building looks much like it did in 1905. The building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as a contributing building to the Broadway Historic District. Locally, it’s in the so-called Architectural Review District.

Today, downtown Saratoga is home to several historic buildings and in recent years a number of new structures have gone up.

Bosshart, however, still thinks that the paper moving out of its former home is the end of a chapter in Saratoga Springs.

“It’s just always had a presence at that corner so to have it not be there is sort of unfortunate,” said Bosshart.

But O'Leary said it’ll still be a community paper, despite the half-mile move.

“Saratogian is in Saratoga. That’s the way it’s gonna be.”

Lucas Willard is a news reporter and host at WAMC Northeast Public Radio, which he joined in 2011. He produces and hosts The Best of Our Knowledge and WAMC Listening Party.
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