Elvis has left the building

The News & Record staff has left its home at the corner of Davie and Market streets since the 1970s. A lot of wonderful memories in that squat two-story building. The people. The stories. The laughter and the tears. I remember the first time I walked in for a job interview in 1984 and the day I left in 2011. Good times and hard times.

But mostly I’m ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ . It’s a building, and not an architecturally attractive one at that.

In 2004, when publisher Van King retired, the paper threw a big dinner in his honor. My wife and I were seated at the table with former Mayor Jim Melvin and his wife. Jim, who  is known as Mr. Greensboro, told me the story of how the News & Record ended up in that location downtown.

At the time, the paper was in an old building where the Cultural Arts Center is now. When Landmark Communications bought the Greensboro Daily News and Greensboro Record, it wanted — it needed — a new building. Jim said that Frank Batten. who owned the company, and Pete Bush, who was the new publisher, were looking for cheap land to locate a new building for the paper. They didn’t care where in the city but the land had to be well-priced, Melvin said. They were looking near High Point Road and I-40.

Melvin was the mayor at the time, he was an enthusiastic downtown promoter, and there was no way he was going to let the paper locate on the interstate. He told me he got the paper a good deal on the Market Street property and persuaded Batten to take it. “I’m the reason the paper is downtown and not at Four Seasons,” he told me.

Van laughed when I told him that story. He said that Batten had always planned to locate downtown. In those days, newspapers were not located in the suburbs; they were located downtown where the government buildings are. That’s where institutional news occurs — the police station, the courthouse, City Hall. Batten just used the other location as a bargaining chip to drive down the price for the Market Street property, Van said.

Of course, that was several lifetimes ago in the news business. Landmark Communications sold the newspaper to Warren Buffett’s company, and the real estate on Market Street became as valuable as the paper. It’s been sold and the staff has to move….

…to a site south of the interstate.


3 thoughts on “Elvis has left the building

  1. Great story, John! Thanks for sharing. I’m a Greensboro Record alum from the 1970s. I remember staffers referring to the Market Street plant as “the new building.” Good memories!

  2. I spent 27 years working in the mailroom in that building. It is full of many memories. both good and bad. But we were always a family. After having spent 3 years at the Winston-Salem production plant, I realize how important that family was to me. Best wishes to all News and Record employees as they make this major move.

  3. Thanks for sharing, John. Was only in the building a few years but it’s one of my favorite all time places to have work. The people, the mission, “the process” :) And that does sound like what Frank would have done.

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