This is Part 1 of a two-part column on this newspaper’s many homes.
Ben Sargent, political cartoonist, printer and history advocate, asks: “Has anyone ever listed all the various places from which the Statesman has been published in its nearly 150 years?”
“My curiosity was prompted while looking at a 1900 Sanborn (fire insurance) map of downtown Austin, and I noticed that in that year, apparently the paper was occupying the Millett Opera House,” writes Sargent, who is retired from the American-Statesman. “There is even a little structure out back … labeled ‘type foundry.’”
The Millett Opera House, built as a theater in 1878 at 110 E. Ninth St., has played many roles. It now serves as home for the Austin Club.
“Anyway, I know of the famous upstairs-from-the-saloon location at 10th and Congress, the wonderful ‘old building’ at Seventh and Colorado (shamefully razed by the University of Texas), and of course the Guadalupe Street and the Riverside Drive buildings,” Sargent writes, “but there appear to have been some unknown number of other venues.”
I did a spot check among the Austin City Directories at the Austin History Center and found a lot of locations. Apparently, printing presses were very light and practically mounted on wheels around the time the tri-weekly Democratic Statesman was founded in 1871. It was listed at Congress Avenue between Hickory (Eighth) and Ash (Ninth) streets in the 1872-73 directory. (Numeral addresses were not uniformly used well into the 20th century.)
It had moved to the northeast corner of Congress and Ash by 1877-1878. The directory lists three other daily papers, including the Texas Stern (German). In 1887-1888, the Statesman (no longer Democratic), was at 126 W. Pecan (Sixth) St. and trundled over to 122 W. Sixth by 1891-92.
We’ll cover the 20th and 21st centuries next week.