Can a brick and mortar building have feelings or a soul?
Long time writer Elliot Curry wrote an elegy for the former home of the Telegram-Tribune on Nov. 11, 1967:
T-T’s old home coming down
Another “deadline has come around at 1240 Morro Street.
The old home of the Telegram-Tribune is coming down.
Built originally for a Ford Garage, the brick building, of Spartan simplicity in design, housed San Luis Obispo daily newspapers for about 34 years from 1924 to 1958.
When the Telegram-Tribune moved to its present home in 1958 the old corner was sold to the neighboring San Luis Clinic, Inc., which will now use the area for its own expansion.
After nine years in the new building on Johnson Avenue there are only about a dozen Telegram-Tribune employees scattered through the various departments who worked in the old building. None of them have appealed to the city council to preserve the old structure as an historic landmark.
Like yesterday’s newspaper, it’s ready for the junkyard.
In the editorial department there are only two real veterans of the Morro street years—Elliot Curry and Johnny Nettleship. Walt Beesley worked there, but for only one summer.
The old building had one outstanding characteristic, it was cozy. Editorial and business departments could communicate by hollering over the glass partitions, “Hey, Mille,” or “Answer the phone, Johnny.”
In the earlier years it was also cold in winter and hot in summer. The corner occupied by the editorial department had originally been designed to display Model-T Ford cars. In summer the sun blasted through the plate glass windows, turning the place into an oven.
It was in the winter, however, that some of the staff showed their real ingenuity. Cecilia Jensen, who spent many years on the Telegram-Tribune staff, started her battle against the cold by building a cardboard fence around her desk. She followed this up by getting her own electric heater. With a warm sweater and lap robe she was ready for a good day’s work.
The editorial corner was heated in those days by an oil stove that must have been one of the first invented. Its sole operator was George Murphy, lifelong printer for the Telegram-Tribune. George had other sources of inner warmth which he kept in his locker but he remained the editorial department’s best hope on frosty mornings until later years when Ted Davies came along to install a gas heater.
The old building got pretty crowded during the 1950s, but it also had the advantage of being close to points of interest downtown. The old Elks club, at Marsh and Morro, was only a block away, while the Midget café and Edith’s Café on Marsh were almost as close.
The two remaining Telegram-Tribune employees who knew the building best are Bud Newton, retail advertising manager, and Walter (Andy) Anderson, linotype operator. Newton came to work for the paper in 1931. Anderson has been in the mechanical department continuously since 1935, but had also started his apprenticeship there in the late 1920s.
Before the days when most people had TV, the newsroom at 1240 Morro was the community center of activity on election nights. On a blackboard borrowed from the Presbyterian church, the newspaper staff would spend most of the night tabulating and posting election returns as candidates and voters crowded into the front offices.
The first newspaper published at 1240 Morro was the Herald-Telegram, a consolidation brought about by R.C. Hoyt when he bought the Telegram from C.L. Day in 1923.
The herald was published as a morning paper and the Telegram in the afternoon. In 1926 the Scripps League acquired all of the San Luis Obispo dailies and brought E.C. Rodgers in as editor. This ownership continued until 1940 when John P. Scripps, Inc, the present owner, acquired both the old garage and the Telegram-Tribune.
It wasn’t much of a building, but from it came a lot of big stories over the years, and many good newspaper people worked there. Too bad it couldn’t have burned down, or blown up, or something — just for one more headline before it disappears.
A fitting farewell but wait, the building had an encore.
From the Telegram-Tribune Nov. 13, 1967 edition:
T-T building’s last headline
True to its newspaper tradition, the old Telegram-Tribune building made one last headline Saturday night.
The brick wall along Pacific Street collapsed and smashed a car belonging to E.M. (Tiny) Underwood.
Wreckers had started early last week to demolish the building, which is owned by San Luis Clinic Inc. Much of the roof had been removed and not much was left standing except the outside walls.
In a reminiscent column on the editorial page Saturday, Elliot Curry recalled that 1240 Morro St. had been the home of San Luis Obispo Daily newspapers for 34 years from 1924-58.
“Too bad,” he wrote, “it couldn’t have burned down, or blown up, or something—just for one more headline before it disappears.”
The old building took the hint.
The very corner where the editorial department had been located for so many years and where so many headlines had been written made its own final headline with a crash that flattened Underwood’s car.
Underwood, who operates Transamerica Car Leasing at 1234 Morro St., had left the car only a minute before.
Power equipment was brought in Sunday to clean up the debris and knock down the rest of the old building before it decided to make any more news.