SKOWHEGAN — “There are eleven Bostons, many Londons, but only one Skowhegan.”

That slogan from came from Skowhegan’s weekly Independent Reporter, according to a short article about newspaper mottos from Time Magazine in 1925, the same year 27-year-old Margaret Chase was a clerk for the paper.

The newspaper operated its presses and its offices in two buildings known then as the Colby Block on Madison Avenue and another on what was then Russell Street, now Commercial Street, around the corner, according to Skowhegan historian Lee Granville, curator of the Skowhegan History House & Museum.

In between the two buildings was the Leavitt Block, home most recently to Skowhegan Electronics, but now Skowhegan’s notorious eyesore.

All three buildings have been sold and will be torn down this month.

The Independent Reporter, housed in a brick building on Commercial Street, merged with rival Somerset Reporter from across town in 1909, Granville said. Needing more space, the newspaper leased the Madison Avenue building and a walkway was added to connect the backs of the two buildings.

The newspaper presses were on the second floor of the Madison Avenue building. On the Commercial Street side, there were business and editorial offices as well as presses for specialty printing, Granville said. The newspaper later moved and closed in the 1980s.

The Independent Reporter was owned by Clyde Smith, who married Margaret Chase in 1930. Margaret Chase Smith became a U.S. senator and at the Republican national convention in 1964 was the first woman to have her name placed for nomination by a major party for president of the United States.

Over the years, various businesses leased space in the converted double storefront on Madison Avenue, including a moccasin company and law offices before standing vacant in the past decade. Lois Miller of Solon, the building’s owner, operated an antique and gift shop called Sweet Memories of Maine in the brick building on Commercial Street until recently.

The Leavitt Block — the big yellow building — was built in 1881 by Skowhegan attorney James Leavitt. The building was the site of one of the earliest photography studios, according to the book “Voice on the Kennebec.” The building also was the location of a state liquor store and was home to Germane and Linda’s Collectibles, according to the book, published in 1983.

There was a grocery store on the corner, Lydia Dean’s candy store upstairs and the office of the Somerset Traction Co., the trolley line that operated in the area.

The Wallace Radio Shop opened in February 1943 and was there into the 1970s. Skowhegan Electronics took over the building and operated there until that store closed in about 2000.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]


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