Farewell to 491 Main St.

For more than two decades, I’ve been working side-by-side with talented, committed journalists who have called 491 Main St. home.

"Home" for the last 22 years. (BDN file photo)

“Home” for the last 22 years. (BDN file photo)

Starting Monday, the home headquarters of the BDN will change: As you’ve likely heard, we’re moving downtown. So long, Paul Bunyan. Adios, Buck Street.

Hello, One Merchants Plaza.

Already, some of our co-workers have moved to their new work home. The rest of us Bangor-based employees will follow.

Home? Odd word for an office building, I suppose. And in today’s on-the-fly journalism world, an actual brick-and-mortar office isn’t nearly as important as it used to be.

For years, many of us writers have not depended on an actual office in order to do our work.

In 22 years working for this newspaper, I’ve filed stories from some of the most far-flung spots in Maine. I’ve written at a small diner in Allagash. I’ve tapped away at a computer precariously perched on my lap as a cool trout stream flowed past. I’ve hunkered down in high school gyms, libraries and McDonald’s restaurants in order to meet daily deadlines while working on the road.

My desks have been varied during those trips afield. Some of the most memorable work stations: The hood of my truck (long before anyone started talking about the benefits of “standing desks”), tree stumps and an overturned garbage can adjacent to the practice football field at Louisiana’s McNeese State University.

So yes, we journalists sometimes get by without an actual building to call home. But after each of those trips, I’ve been thankful to be able to return to 491 Main St.


That’s what this old building has been for many of us. My tenure, although stretching into its third decade, isn’t all that lengthy around here.

People come to the BDN as recent college graduates (or even as high school clerks). They grow up here. They make friends, share triumphs and seek solace after personal tragedies. Some move on. But many of us stay. Not because we can’t go anywhere else … but because this is home.

Over the course of my 22 years at the BDN, I’ve lived in at least seven different neighborhoods. Bangor. Hampden. Holden. Back to Bangor. Over that same span, my workspace has moved about 10 feet. Maybe less.

Our work home at 491 Main St. has always been a source of comfort to me. Co-workers become friends, after all. They become golf buddies, hunting buddies and fishing buddies.

They become sounding boards for stories that turn out well and good-natured critics of columns that fall flat. They help, nourish and drive all of us to become better at what we do.

At some point on Friday afternoon, I’ll exit these halls for the last time. My packing is nearly done, and I’m ready to move on.

A new home awaits, and we’re eager to take that physical step away from the place where many of us have grown up, and into a place where we hope to continue to do what we’ve always done.

Collectively, I know we want to tell you the stories that matter. In these pages, personally, I hope to take you to even more of Maine’s special places, and introduce you to people who’ll interest, intrigue and maybe even inspire you.

So yes, we’re moving. Why write a whole column about a simple move?

Here’s one reason: Everywhere I’ve gone in the last few months, folks have been asking questions about that move.

And here’s another: Because sometimes, it’s important to recognize where you’ve been, and how you got to where you are, even as you prepare to go somewhere else.

Hundreds of other BDN employees have worked in this building over the past 60 years. They paved the way for the rest of us and provided you, our readers, with the best product we could produce, six days per week.

This was their home, too.

So, moving day is upon us. It’s time to go.

Just remember: We’re not going far. Our phone numbers aren’t changing. And we look forward to talking to you again soon … from our new home.

John Holyoke can still be reached at 990-8214 or jholyoke@bangordailynews.com. His Twitter “home” won’t change, either. Follow him: @JohnHolyoke.

John Holyoke

About John Holyoke

John Holyoke has been enjoying himself in Maine's great outdoors since he was a kid. Today, he's the Outdoors editor for the BDN, a job that allows him to meet up with Maine outdoors enthusiasts in their natural habitat. The stories he gathers provide fodder for his columns, and this blog.