Bayview is Paper’s fifth home

Were Frank Niles still in the newspaper business, he likely would not recognize The South Whidbey Record as it is today, let alone find it.

This weekend, The Record is moving its offices out of Langley city limits and into the recently renovated Bayview Cash Store. This will be the first time in the newspaper’s nearly 81-year history — which started when Niles published the first edition of the Whidby Record on Sept. 22 or Sept. 23, 1923 — that its offices will be located outside of the city.

With the move, one of South Whidbey’s oldest continuously operating businesses moves into one of the island’s oldest — and newest — commercial buildings. The Cash Store was built as a one-story commercial structure in 1924. As of today, building owner Goosefoot Community Fund puts the finishing touches on the enlargement and renovation of the building to two stories.

Melissa Richardson, the sixth and current publisher of The Record, said this week that both history and the newspaper’s expanded coverage area were factors in the decision to move.

“Moving The Record out of downtown Langley, where it’s been for over 80 years, wasn’t an easy decision,” she said. “But being located at the Cash Store gives us a better and continued opportunity to help bring all of South Whidbey together as one community.”

The Cash Store, which is wired for Internet Age business, is a far cry from where The Record started eight decades ago. According to Bill Niles, Frank Niles’ son and a Clinton resident, the newspaper business was a noisy one in the early years, at least in the printing room. Frank Niles opened the Whidby Record (complete with the incorrect spelling of “Whidbey” used by islanders well into the 20th century) after having started in the newspaper business right after high school. He owned and operated newspapers in Silverton and Granite Falls before coming to Langley with his wife, Frances.

The Record first printed and published out of a two-story building on the corner of Second Street and Anthes Avenue owned by city founder Jacob Anthes. In that building, Frank Niles was both editor and publisher, and the newspaper was printed on gas-powered printing presses.

After a few years at that location, the Whidby Record moved to a building Niles had constructed for the newspaper on First Street. That building, which still stands at 211 First Street, would be the paper’s home until 1965. The move marked the first major modern innovation for The Record, as electricity was available in the building, thus electric printing presses were put to work printing the paper.

Niles sold the Whidby Record in 1934 to the newspaper’s second publisher, George Astel. Astel had already purchased the Oak Harbor News and the Whidbey Times in Coupeville. Astel combined the two northern papers and began publishing the Whidbey News-Times. Niles, according to his son, went on to publish a paper in Endicot, then opened two shoppers in Lynnwood. He finally retired from the newspaper business at the age of 75.

Astel then sold his Whidbey Newspaper Group to Glenn Smith in 1939, according to a special Whidbey Island centennial publication put out by the Whidbey Newspaper Group in 1948. That year, Smith built a modern printing plant in Oak Harbor and began printing both his newspapers in that building.

In March 1965, Wally Funk and John Webber purchased the Whidbey Newspaper Group and the renamed Whidbey Island Record. Shortly after the purchase, the business partners had a new newspaper building erected for The Record at the site of its original building, the lot on the corner of Second and Anthes.

Funk and Webber gave the newspaper its current name, The South Whidbey Record, in October 1981.

The paper’s current owner, Sound Publishing, purchased the Whidbey Newspaper Group in 1989. Six years later, The Record offices moved again, this time to the Porter Building, which was kitty corner across the street. The Record is now printed in Burlington.

One other major change made since 1989 has been the frequency of The Record’s publication. Prior to March 1995, The Record was a weekly paper, published on Tuesdays. Since that date, The Record has been published twice weekly on Wednesday’s and Saturdays.

The Record has signed a 15-year lease for its new space in the Bayview Cash Store.

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