Historic newspapers, photos salvaged from former SJ Star building

Written by  //  December 13, 2011  //  General Biz News  //  8 Comments

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Bound volumes of historic editions of The San Juan Star will be moved to the UPR's Central Archive facility. (Credit: Miguel Castañer)

Nearly 50 years of Puerto Rico’s history captured in print and photographs that had been stored in the library of the former The San Juan Star newspaper in Guaynabo are being pulled out of the building this week by a brigade from the University of Puerto Rico.

Scores of bound volumes containing newspapers from as early as the 1950s are being salvaged from the windowless structure that has been closed since August 2008, when the English-language daily publication folded.

The brigade, lead by the UPR’s General Student Council, will return today to continue taking out the material which would otherwise be destroyed by the company that is cleaning out the building that was recently sold, sources said Monday.

“The university administration will be providing two trucks to transport the material, which if not transferred to the UPR [this week], will be destroyed by the company in charge of cleaning the building,” the General Student Council said in a brief statement released Friday.

The former San Juan Star newsroom. (Credit: Miguel Castañer)

Whatever material is rescued will now be preserved and kept at the UPR’s Central Archive.

Volunteers, including several former San Juan Star employees, who worked along the UPR staff said Monday the trucks were filled several times and would return to the vacant building today to continue the job.

Photos posted on Facebook showed areas of the island’s only Pulitzer-prize winning publication’s former newsroom in complete disarray.

The San Juan Star closed just a few months before a crew from Hollywood descended on the island to film “The Rum Diary,” whose plot revolved around an alcoholic former staff reporter. The 1950s set included at least a dozen of the bound volumes and several of the metal filing cabinets that once sat in the small library, as well as shots of the newspaper’s printing press.

After the closing, only a scant few employees were kept on the payroll to operate the printing press used to put out other publications. Earlier this year, a small fire was reported in the first level of the building, generating smoke that reportedly made its way to the second story, where the library was located.

8 Comments on "Historic newspapers, photos salvaged from former SJ Star building"

  1. Gina Delucca December 13, 2011 at 1:26 PM · Reply

    El San Juan Star publicaba una columna diaria de García Passalacqua cuando sucedió el lamentable incidente del Cerro Maravilla y su secuela de eventos. Don Juanma tenía la información privilegiada sobre los acontecimientos y el encubrimiento, genialmente comentada y en perfecto inglés. No me perdía una columna de él. Tiempos aquellos… Me alegro mucho que hayan rescatado los archivos del Star. !Aplausos!

  2. Joachim de Posada December 13, 2011 at 8:00 PM · Reply

    Congratulations to the students of the University of Puerto Rico, my alma matter, for salvaging the valuable history kept in archives inside the building of the San Juan Star. To allow that treasure to be lost would be a crime against the cultural patrimony of Puerto Rico. I am proud to have written a weekly column I’m the Business section under Mercy McCloskey and News is My business editor Michelle Kantrow. Good old times.

  3. Steven Moore December 13, 2011 at 10:51 PM · Reply

    My mother worked at the Star since before it first published in 1959. It would have been a shame to lose such important documents that Mr. Angulo seems to care so little about. Kudos to the UPR students!

  4. David Acevedo October 29, 2016 at 10:42 AM · Reply

    This is a trip to the very deep space of my memories. I walked the building since I can remember. I remember some of the staff, but especially the photo lab and its photographers. Yes, written words create an impact, but the pictures… first, the Speed GGaflex, then the Rolleiflex, then the venerable Nikon, the D-76, Dektol, the Pakosol, the Tri-X Pan film, the guys that worked there, and I will try my best to remember them all; José Feliciano, Pipo Grajales, the two José García, Rafi Trías, Eddie Crespo, a great guy, my own father David Acevedo. I also remember Eddie López, Peggy Ann Bliss, the North American editor in chief whose name escape my thoughts, great people, many long gone, others in the dawn of their lives, all made history just for the fact of having worked, and I just remembered the editor’s name , William Dorvillier, The fact of having worked in the only English published newspaper in Puerto Rico. I walked thru photo montage (right word?), the newsroom, the press, that paper mangling huge machine, the part where the printing plates were made, oh my, I didn’t know I could remember such things, but among all, the photographers, the darkroom, the Pako paper driers, the peculiar smell of the D-76 and Dektol, the stop bath trays, the fixer, the advent of the Polycontrast RC paper, wow, what a ride. Thanks to Scripps Howard publication many Puerto Ricans made their living in a world class newspaper. I was especially sad when it folded by the end of 1982, and anyone can correct me, I know there are many siblings to the people who worked there. Casually, a few months ago I came across the dayghter of Eddie Crespo, long gone, victim to the killing fumes of the darkroom chemicals, which is also killing my own father. Got to qyit now but please, anyone with knowledge about this subject, its employees. Personnel in general, please get in touch, we could together put up a time where papers ruled. God bless you all.

  5. Lymarie Roman November 4, 2016 at 9:32 PM · Reply

    Mi papa fue periodista del San Juan Star cuando comenzó en Ponce. Se llamaba Pedro M. Roman. Luego comenzó en San Juan cuando el periódico comenzó aca. Me siento muy orgullosa de el

  6. Stephen Sloane April 7, 2017 at 4:06 PM · Reply

    I worked for 20th Century Fox from 1966 to 1970 and directed all the advertising and publicity for the films we distributed. The employees at the San Juan Star were all first class and I was very happy to interact.

  7. Michael Dickson August 10, 2017 at 2:13 PM · Reply

    I worked as a copy editor in the Star newsroom in the mid-1970s. Though I was there under two years, and worked on other papers for a total of 30 years (now retired), that was the best newspaper job of my life. Loved it, and I loved living there on Calle Norzagaray in Old San Juan. Very sad that the paper folded.

    • Michelle Kantrow August 10, 2017 at 10:27 PM · Reply

      Glad to hear from a former SJStar colleague. Although we did not coincide in the newsroom, we do agree on it being the best newspaper job…it was mine as well. I learned a lot about ethics, fairness and balance in reporting. I appreciate your support of this venture, which is basically a continuation of what I did at the Star. In my work, I try to honor the principles I was taught during my 13 years as a business reporter there. Have a great day!

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