By: Kelly Smith, guest columnist
I first walked into 425 Portland Av. more than two decades ago as a child, visiting the Minneapolis Star Tribune to see my father, a night news editor. I was in awe of the old building, staring at the giant globe that filled the lobby as it rotated slowly and then running across the creaky newsroom floor with my sisters to see our dad, typing away as a green cursor blinked on the black computer screen.
Now, for nearly five years, it’s become a second home to me as a news reporter — until March 27. The newsroom is moving out of the building to one of three floors the newspaper is renting in a downtown building after the sale of its longtime land. And after nearly 100 years, the limestone and granite building — the last newspaper building remaining in Minneapolis — will soon be demolished, replaced by a park.
As a journalist, it’s sad to see the loss of original early 20th Century newspaper buildings — a trend happening across the country. Newspapers, seeking to downsize and pay off debt, have reduced buildings to real estate, sold to developers to repurpose or destroy to make way for things like condos or casinos.
To some of us, they have been more than just buildings, but community landmarks as significant to the roots of the cities that grew up around them as libraries and city halls. They represented our history as an industry and company. And they reflected a strong permanence and independent presence in the community.
At the Star Tribune, there was something so powerful about walking into a five-story building that filled the whole city block, lined with Minnesota black granite and the words “STAR AND TRIBUNE” carved in limestone like a proud newspaper masthead next to six massive medallions illustrating the Midwest’s top industries. From the metal tracks in the basement where the presses once circled to the lobby elevator doors etched with images of a linotype machine, there were humbling reminders everywhere that we were following in the footsteps of hundreds of journalists over the years, all faced with telling the day’s news.
Now, the building will soon be reduced to rubble, a fate few protested. While all the history that has happened inside the building has been well-documented, it is still sad to lose a building that has held so much history — both the newspaper’s and the community’s — and represented a permanence that will no longer exist. Since 1919, 425 Portland Av. has housed the beginnings of the Minneapolis Star Tribune’s story – and that of so many of its journalists’.