General Biz News

Historic newspapers, photos salvaged from former SJ Star building

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.

Author Details
Business reporter with 25 years of experience writing for weekly and daily newspapers, as well as trade publications in Puerto Rico. My list of former employers includes Caribbean Business, The San Juan Star, and the Puerto Rico Daily Sun, among others. My areas of expertise include telecommunications, technology, retail, agriculture, tourism, banking and most other areas of the economy.

Comments (19)

  1. 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. 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. 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. 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.

    • Gracias por acordarse de mi tío Eddie López. El fue mi inspiración para una posible carrera en periodismo en los años 70 que eventualmente terminó en medicina. Me gustaría poder ver todos esos artículos y editoriales que el afanosamente escribió una vez más. También me gustaría saber si existe alguna grabación de su voz o en video para poder mostrárselo a la nueva generación de la familia. Todos lo extrañamos mucho y sufrimos con el su cancer. Por otro lado nos hizo sentir muy alegres cuando escribía los primeros libretos de los rayos gamma. Muchas gracias por su gentileza.

    • This is for David Acevedo… I think I knew your father in 1964. I met him at a club in San Juan and he was working for the San Juan Star taking photos he took some of me and took one of him at the airport. I remember him as a perfect gentleman and wondered how his life turned out. Please let me know if this is the same person I am 77 so he would be around the same .

      • Tengo miles de fotos de los años 60-late 70’s de cuando mi padre trabajo como fotopetiodista en el San Juan Star. David Acevedo.

      • Hi, Nancy. My name is Laura. David’s daughter. Thank you for your kind words about my father. Daddy decided to leave this earth on March 6, 2017. He was 77. Until the end his cameras were at reach to snap that next image. Again, thank you. Laura

  5. 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

    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. 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

      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!

      • Hi Michelle:
        I am a student in the University of Puerto Rico and was looking for information on the San Juan Star newspaper for a project. If there is anything that you can provide to me it would be extremely helpful.

  8. Yolanda Rogers (nee Serrano Arreche)

    I wrote a small weekly column, “Teen Scene”, for The San Juan Star when I was in high school (1962-1964). Later in life I continued on to journalism and now my granddaughter is looking at such a career after her graduation this June. I am making a small album for her and wanted to include a copy of one of these columns but haven’t had much success with my searches. Is there any hope of my finding the info I am seeking? Thank you!

    • Hi Yolanda. Thanks for reaching out. I think your best best is the University of Puerto Rico’s main library in Río Piedras. I believe they have all of the newspapers there. Good luck!

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