The Camden Herald was first published Feb. 6, 1869, by William H. Berry, a printer from Winthrop.

Thus began a 150-year legacy of print journalism committed to the Camden area. It would be impossible in any one article, or even edition, to detail all of that history, but we have compiled here an overview showing how the newspaper has changed over the years and the way it, and the many people who have worked for it, have influenced as well as documented historic events.

That first edition was similar to other weekly newspapers in Maine at the time.

"It was a small sheet, five columns to a page, set up entirely in nonpareil type," according to Joseph Griffin, author of "History of the Press of Maine," published in 1874.

The newspaper was two pages, back and front, it cost $1.50 a year, and "came out every Saturday morning." The front page contained a poem about loyalty titled "The Inside Dog in the Fight." Most of the front page was devoted to a fictional story, "The French Detective."

Short humorous stories and bits of national and international news reprinted from other newspapers were featured on its pages, along with advertisements.

The new paper was welcomed by the established newspapers to its north and south.

The Republican Journal's welcome was printed in its Feb. 4, 1869, edition. We suspect its last line is related to the French detective story.

"A New Paper. We have to greet a new comer in the world of newspapers. The Camden Herald, an exceedingly neat sheet, finds it way to our table, bearing the announcement that Camden has its newspaper, and Knox County its fourth establishment of the kind. The Herald is independent in politics and in religion, and will be devoted mainly to the general and local news… The first number is lively and spicy."

The Courier-Gazette announced the arrival of The Camden Herald in its Feb. 5, 1869, edition. It ended with a question, asking if Camden's new editor intended to promote a political or social cause.

"The 'Camden Herald' is the name of a new paper just issued from the press of Wm, H. Berry, Esq. It is of medium size, finely printed, and its advertising pages are well filled. Success to it. "Brother Berry, are you going to set up as 'a Organ?'"

According to Griffin, the newspaper originated in January 1869. This may explain why the other papers published their welcomes a day or two before the Herald first came out.

Berry did not hold onto The Camden Herald for long. In September 1869, he sold it to William H. Twombly and D. L.Crandall. Twombly and Crandall were printers from Massachusetts, according to Griffin, "who enlarged the paper by adding two columns to a page, and setting the reading in larger type. By March 1, 1870, Twombly purchased Crandall's interest in the paper and and became sole proprietor and editor.

"During the first year, circulation was about 600," Griffin wrote sometime prior to 1874. "Under the present management, it has reached 1,200 and is growing. It aims to be as local in character as possible with no political bias. The size of the paper is 36 by 24."

Twombly, a native of Dover, N.H., "learned the art of printing" in New York City, where he lived for 20 years, and worked in the "reportorial corps, and in the editorial room." Before arriving in Camden, he "managed a newspaper for a year or two" in Boston, according to Griffin.

When newspaper owners were politicians

While Twombly's background was in printing and publishing newspapers, he became the first in a long series of owners and editors who were leaders in Camden's political, business and civic life. It would be 100 years before journalistic standards emphasizing the independence of newspapers from political and civic organizations would rise in influence.

Twombly was a strong advocate of temperance, according to historian and editor Reuel Robinson. In 1851, Maine led the nation in the temperance movement by passing the first state law aimed at reducing alcohol consumption.

In 1870, a lodge of the International Organization of Good Templars, was organized in Camden, and named after Twombly. The IOGT, established in 1851, still exists today.

Twombly published the Herald until September 1872, then sold the business to brothers Aubrey W. and Abner F. Dunton. They published the newspaper until Jan. 1, 1874, when it was sold to Wilder W. Perry.

Early locations of the Herald

Heather Moran, state archivist and local historian, has visually identified the earliest known location of the Herald Printing Co. in a photo of Main Street, circa 1885. The large white wooden building in downtown Camden on the east side of Main Street is shown in a photograph in "Images of America: Camden and Rockport Revisted," which Moran, the current president of the Camden-Rockport Historical Society, authored for the organization in 2015. The photograph identifies wooden buildings built before the Great Fire of 1892. The Herald's printing operation was not located in this building at the time of the fire, according to documentation of the businesses lost..

A photo of the Camden Herald building on Mechanic Street shows a handsome and fairly new wooden structure built after the Great Fire. This building housed the Herald after 1892, and before the brick building at 10 Bay View St. was built for the newspaper in 1910, according to Pat Skaling, president of Camden's Historic Resources Committee. Skaling has researched and compiled locations of the Herald, and biographic information from many sources on its early owners and editors, as part of an effort to secure inclusion on the National Historic Register for 10 Bay View St.

Greenbackers, and a murder

Perry, who was owner and editor from 1874 to 1883, ran for numerous political offices, was elected state representative, and was a local leader in a political movement few have heard about today.

Under Perry's management, The Camden Herald "changed from a non-partisan, independent sheet to a radical, aggressive and uncompromising Greenback organ that advocated with vigor the principles of a political party called Greenbackism," according to Robinson.

The Greenback Party was an American political party with an anti-monopoly ideology that was active between 1874 and 1889, according to Wikipedia, and ran candidates in the presidential elections of 1876, 1880 and 1884 before fading away. The name "Greenback" came from paper money, not backed by gold bullion, issued by the North during the Civil War.

At Camden's March 1878 town meeting, Greenback party candidates won the public vote in contested elections for town clerk, selectmen and treasurer. Townspeople also voted to reduce the poll tax to $1 and to raise $2,000 for the purchase of a "poor farm." The newspaper heralded the results “with a great display of flags, roosters,' etc., as a great 'Greenback Victory,' which without doubt it was," Robinson wrote.

When Perry was later elected State Representative in Maine, he won as the "Greenbacker" candidate.

While Perry was editor, the front page displayed the words, "OUR MOTTO, The Greatest Good to the Greatest number."

A July 15, 1881, headline read:

"MURDER

IN CAMDEN!

A Boy Mysteriously Disappears!

Was it for Money?

Two Boys Arrested.

The disturbing story details the murder of 10-year-old Willie Cain, who "had been drowned in the Lily Pond" in Rockport by two boys, Ralph B. Richards, 14, and Edward Freeman Gross, 11, who confessed to his murder. Cain had gathered lilies in the pond, and sold 20 cents' worth, and the two older boys took him out on the pond, and demanded the money. After Cain gave the boys 10 cents, one pushed him out of the boat. The story ends with the words, "They say he came to the surface twice but they made no attempt to save him."

An editorial column beside the murder story decries the act as "moral heathenism." The writer describes the usual attendance at Camden's 11 local churches as "one-third filled," and goes on to say that "there are also within a few rods of all these churches, children growing up without the first spark of a moral idea being awakened in their natures."

Camden Publishing Co.

In 1883, Perry sold the newspaper to the new Camden Publishing Co., which published the Herald for many decades. Thaddeus R. Simonton, an attorney who purchased a half-interest in the newspaper, became its editor and manager.

Simonton was well known before entering the newspaper business. In 1860 he was the first county attorney of the new county of Knox, and by 1861 was deputy collector of customs for the port of Camden, a position he held for 18 years, according to Phillip Conkling, who authored "Where the Mountains Meet the Sea" for the Edward J. Walsh History Center of the Camden Public Library.

While editor, Simonton was elected state senator from Knox County in 1885-'86. Later on he became a special agent of the U.S. Treasury, and then clerk of courts for Knox County.

Simonton published a tourist guide, "Picturesque Camden on the Coast of Maine." In the book's preface, he wrote that he had "long felt that the numerous attractions of Picturesque Camden as a Summer Resort should be better known," and had "undertaken the preparation of this Tourist Guide" to accomplish that goal. The book was printed in 1886 in Camden. The publisher is listed as "Camden Herald Print."

Reuel Robinson, lawyer, leader and historian

Reuel Robinson became editor for the first time from 1886-'89 and later returned from 1923-'25, according to Conkling. He came to Camden as a young man, was a Bates College graduate, and later earned a law degree. Before becoming editor of the Camden Herald, he was the town's school principal. Afterwards, Robinson held many prominent positions, including president and treasurer of the Camden Woolen Co., according to John R. Williams' two-volume "History of Camden." Robinson was elected judge of probate on the Republican ticket and remained active in Republican politics for 40 years. While editor, he pushed for American entry into the Spanish-American war after the sinking of the USS Maine in Havana Harbor. In an August 1923 editorial, Robinson took a stand against the Ku Klux Klan, which was making inroads in Maine. Today he is best known, and often quoted, for his book, "History of Camden and Rockport, Maine," published in 1907.

What the Herald said about the Great Fire of 1892

Simonton was again editor when a fire began at 1 a.m. Nov. 10, 1892, on the east side of Main Street, and because of what Robinson would later describe as a “fierce easterly wind from the bay,” destroyed the commercial businesses on both sides of Main, lower Mechanic and Washington streets. The fire continued up Elm street, consuming Megunticook Hall, where the Opera House stands now, and an adjacent building before it was extinguished.

It is a mystery today where the Camden Herald office and printing operation were located at that time. The newspaper came out on Fridays, and Nov. 10 was a Thursday. The paper did not put out an issue Nov. 11, but did Nov. 18, with no mention of its offices' suffering any damage. While the fire was horrific, no lives were lost and all but one of the buildings lost were insured, according to reports.This may partly account for the tone of the news items reported in the Herald the following week. The story of the fire, “After the Battle,” was placed on page two, according to the newspaper's custom. Local news would not appear on the front page for some time.

"A week has now passed since our village was laid low by fire, and our people have recovered from the effects of the sudden shock and have been looking about to what condition they were in,” the paper said. The story went on to describe how businesses “had formed their plans for the future, and had lumber on the spot ready for building … before the smoke of the ruin of their business places had died out.” While the desire was to rebuild brick buildings, the plans turned to building temporary wooden structures to transact business until spring. Nearly all the businesses had already “found quarters elsewhere and are now doing business.”

One businessman bought a building that had not burned, and moved it to his lot where a shoe store had stood, and Colson & Staples milliners were ready to move in that week, and had already “been to Boston since the fire and secured an entirely new stock, which is full in every department.” The building's upper story would be rented to an insurance business and a law office.

Other businesses opened in temporary locations: “Geo. W. Achorn has a good line of dry and fancy goods in the Mills building near the bridge. It is needless to say that it is all new and fresh. The Boston Store has quarters on Bay View street in the Laundry Building and have been doing business nearly all the week. Burd & Hosmer have a store in the Cushing building on Bay View street and have a good large new stock.”

The Camden Herald also carried reports of the fire from neighboring newspapers.

The Rockland Courier-Gazette wrote, “There is no tear shedding in Camden! No time for it! Blocks must be built and business resumed. From a burning town she became a building town, and talk of brick and stone in place of wood was another lightening transition."

The Bangor Industrial Journal wrote, “Camden's capitalistic resources lie in her unequaled location, her pure air and beautiful natural surroundings, and these were far beyond the reach of the fiery devastator. Her village streets will soon be adorned by better, handsomer and more substantial business blocks than before …"

Editors and civic leadership

Jesse Ogier became editor after Robinson left in 1889. In his first issue, he "took the editorial stance that the local weekly newspaper had a special mission to emphasize local news and advertisements, leaving national and political issues to papers in whose sphere these matters belong," according to Allan Robert Miller's "The History of Current Maine Newspapers."

Beginning in January 1906, weekly articles ran until April 1907 on the "History of Camden and Rockport, Maine." The author was Robinson, the former editor.

In 1908 Ogier was one of 60 founding members of the Camden Board of Trade. The group's first project was to "prepare printed folders advertising Camden and to distribute them as widely as possible."  In 1926, the board planned the Union Street arch between Camden and Rockport, and in 1939, it became a local chapter of the nationally organized Chamber of Commerce.

It was under Ogier's leadership that the Camden Herald office moved to 10 Bay View St., where it remained until the late 1970s.

A Feb. 15, 1910, story included a photograph and a caption announcing "the fine new brick block on Bay View Street which the Herald is now occupying and from which our edition this week is issued." The story proudly described how "no stronger foundation or better built building stands in town today.The Herald occupies the whole of the first floor and nearly half of the basement. The arrangement of the first floor is to suit the special needs of a printing office." The press room at the back of the building was "specially strengthened for the heavy machinery. … The front windows are all plate glass and the hardware is solid bronze metal."

A March 4 story reported on a Saturday open house in the new building, where  "people were coming and going all afternoon," More thanr 125 visited, expressed "many compliments upon our fine office," and "pinks were given to the ladies and cigars to the gentlemen."

By the end of World War I, local news was a regular feature on the front page of The Camden Herald. A celebration of the war's end, with a mile-long parade on Aug. 19, 1919, was the largest in the town's history, according to Willams. On Sept. 5 of that year, a Herald story detailed the planting of an arbor of Liberty pine trees on the Aldermere farm property. The trees were supplied by Mrs. A. H. Chatfield, and planted for the soldiers and sailors “of the summer people. The number of trees was forty-four, four for those who gave up their lives in the service and the remainder for those still living.” After the planting ceremony, “a large American flag was raised on the new staff in the midst of the grove of trees, and with it all the flags of the Allies were carried on a separate streamer,” according to the Herald story.

In 1923, World War I veteran Col. Ernest Robbins acquired the Herald after Ogier died in 1920.

In an early editorial, Robbins announced that the Herald was a Republican paper politically, and would continue to be "without bias or prejudice, reserving the right to give its support to every cause for furthering the community and national good." He appealed to the town's citizens to cooperate with the newspaper's purpose of seeking out the news of the community and getting it to all of the people.

In April 1924, the Herald relocated to a Washington Street building across from the fire station. Ironically, a fire gutted that office on July 2, 1927, and the Herald moved back to 10 Bay View, and remained there until the late 1970s.

While the paper did not report about the stock market crash of Oct. 29, 1929, "Robbins featured many stories about the federal programs that put local men back to work," according to Conkling.

The Camden Herald reported that in April 1935, during the Depression, Robbins received a telegram from U.S. Rep. Edward Moran that federal funding had come through to preserve and protect 4,331 acres around "Camden mountain." The federal government agreed to fund a Civilian Conservation Corps to help build the facilities for the new park. A parcel in Lincolnville on the Youngtown Road side of Mt. Megunticook became the first piece of official parkland. Camden had advocated for an automobile road after the federal government paid for the auto road to the summit of Cadillac Mountain on Mount Desert Island in the 1930s.

Hamilton Hall, Eleanor Roosevelt visit, first Lobster Festival remembered by Hall's daughter, Mary Bok

After Robbins died in 1942, his wife sold The Camden Herald to stepson E. Hamilton Hall.

During World War II, Hall worked at the shipyard, with Charles Cookson of the Augusta Press running the Herald, according to Miller. After the war, Hall returned full-time to the newspaper.

According to The Camden Herald, one of the most covered media events early in Hall's tenure as owner was the visit of Eleanor Roosevelt to the Camden Shipbuilding and Marine Railway Co. Nov. 7, 1943, for the launching of the barge Pine State. The newspaper reported that “Sea Street was thronged with people, all anxious to get a glimpse of the First Lady and to secure a desirable position from which to witness the events of the afternoon.”

In a recent interview, Hall's daughter, Mary Bok, recalled that day. She was 5 years old, and sitting on her father's shoulders, “and we were close to Roosevelt,” she said. She remembered thinking Roosevelt looked funny in her fur coat. The Camden Herald reported that Roosevelt “lent her presence to a series of events sponsored by Camden Shipbuilding and Marine Railway Company, including inspection of the yard,” a luncheon, “participation in the launchings and induction as honorary member of the Penobscot Indian Tribe.” Bok remembered being fascinated by the Penobscots' dances, because there were children her age dancing.

For one or two years, the family lived in the apartments above the office, and rented their home to summer residents whom Bok said she thought paid a good amount for their large house overlooking the Bay. Bok said they must have done this because finances were thin, but said her father never wanted anything else but to work at the Herald.

 

Hall was instrumental in bringing the first and only lobster festival to Camden, according to Conkling. (The festival moved to Rockland after the first year.) In 1946, he was a member of the Chamber of Commerce, which became interested in using tourism to revive the local economy after the war. He visited Pictou, Nova Scotia, to learn about a lobster carnival held there before World War II, and with three others formed Camden-Rockport Lobster Inc. The Aug. 16, 1947, festival was so successful, U.S. Senator Margaret Chase Smith and Gov. Horace Hildreth were featured in the parade, and more than 10,000 others attended, according to "Where the Mountains Meet the Sea."

Bok remembered her her father's excitement in planning the lobster festival. She recalled meetings held at the house the winter before, and how he thought it was going to be the greatest thing to happen in Camden. That summer, she was away at camp, and did not get to go to the festival, but one day while she was away, she received a box full of red lobster pins, enough for every girl and boy at the camp.

 

At The Camden Herald's office on 10 Bay View St., a Linotype machine was set in front of one of the plate glass windows, and passersby “were forever gathering” to watch the operators and machine, Bok said.

Heavy rectangular blocks of lead were lifted, fitted into the machine and melted. An operator typed a line of a story, which was one column wide, the machine arranged a mold of the letters and spaces, and melted lead filled the mold in a single block, called a slug. Within about a minute, the finished slug slid down a chute into a form in the shape of a newspaper column. The operator proofread the slug, and proceeded to type the next line of the story, until the column filled with slugs was ready for the printing press.

Bok's mother, Mary, also worked at the Camden Herald office. One year, her mother signed up for a 10-week Linotype course in New York, and had borrowed money to pay for it. She was going, she told her husband, and would take the children, Mary and Doug, with her. She would hire someone to take care of the children when they came home from school, while she was still in class. Mary remembered sitting on the floor of the family's Studebaker Coupe “all the way to New York” with her brother and their dog. “All we knew was Mamma was going to school and it was a long way from home,” she said.

Her mother was the best in her class, according to Bok, and after coming back to Camden, worked as a Linotype setter until 1947, when Mary's sister was born. She even lifted the heavy lead bars into the machine, Bok said, which sometimes splashed the operator as they melted. If the operator found a mistake while proofreading a slug, it had to redone right away, before the next slug was made, Bok said.

Bok remembered the annual field trip she and her classmates at the Mary E. Taylor school would take to The Camden Herald office. Her mother would prepare a slug with each student's name. The slugs were prized because they could be inked and used as stamps, which some students added to their arms and faces.

Hall also played a role in bringing the filming of "Peyton Place" to Camden, according to Conkling. After town officials in Woodstock, Vt., rejected a request from 20th Century Fox film producer Jerry Wald to film there, Hall brought the script around to Camden churches and obtained their support.

Four hundred local people were hired as extras when "Peyton Place" was filmed in Camden in three weeks during June 1957. The extras could donate their checks to benefit the Camden Community Hospital. That December, the film's world premiere was held at the Camden Theater on Mechanic Street. Two sold-out shows drew 1,200 "paying customers," according to Helen Stearns, whose report for the Associated Press ran in The Camden Herald the next day.

The town of Camden turned the premiere into a benefit for the Camden Community Hospital building fund, and in fact, had convinced 20th Century Fox to hold the world premiere of "Peyton Place" in Camden for this reason, according to the Herald's reports.

Hall worked to establish the Camden Community Hospital, was involved in the development of the Snow Bowl, and was a member of the Planning Board.

In 1968 Hall sold the newspaper to his son, Doug. Four years prior, Doug Hall was advertising manager of the Camden Herald Publishing Co, and in 1966 become editor, according to Miller. In an early editorial, he remarked on his father's concerns with civic pride and advancement “and supporting those causes he deemed to be in the best welfare of the town as he saw it.”

Ownership in flux

During Doug Hall's ownership the publication made the transition from “hot type” letterpress printing to offset printing, increased the newspaper's size to 18 to 20 pages and grew to a circulation of 4,000, according to a Dec. 7, 1978, story in the Herald. He expanded the use of photographs, and added an editorial page, according to Conkling. He hired editor Mike Brown, who made editorials more prominent, and took on a more strident and forceful tone, according to Miller. Brown took town officials to task for “challenging the right of this newspaper to function as a free press,” and questioning "our authority to inform the public of its right to know the deliberations of the officials who have been given the precious mandate of public trust. It is not a new challenge,” he wrote.

Jane Day became editor after Brown left in 1973. She had worked for United Press International's Washington, D.C., bureau, a Maryland weekly newspaper and the National Observer. Day added more features and photos, including full-page photo features. A serious car accident that left Doug Hall partially disabled led to his decision to open and operate the independent movie theater, Bay View Street Cinema, and sell the Camden Herald.

Hall sold the newspaper in December 1978 to the Penobscot Bay Publishing Co., owned by the New York-based Whitney Communications. The Herald reported that the publishing company's minority stockholders were publisher and editor James W. Martin, who had joined the Herald in July, and CBS evening news anchorman Walter Cronkite. Cronkite, who had no day-to-day involvement in the newspaper, said in a telephone interview that he was “delighted to be associated with The Camden Herald, if only in a small way.”

Around the same time, the Herald's next owner, Bill Patten, and his partner, Dick Saltonstall, agreed to buy The Republican Journal from Rusty Brace, according to Patten's tell-all memoir, “My Three Fathers.” When the Journal was sold to Whitney Communications, Patten sought to challenge the sale. He and Saltonstall succeeded in buying The Republican Journal in 1979, along with The Bar Harbor Times.

In 1981, Whitney Communications sold The Camden Herald to Patten, who hired Ken Bailey, who at the time was wearing the hats of Maine guide, selectman and salesman in the family shoe store. Patten wrote that Bailey “gradually helped bring The Camden Herald down to earth as he rose through its ranks in the middle eighties.”

Patten wrote that because of their differing political beliefs, he and Bailey sometimes ran opposing editorials before elections.

When Bailey became editor, “his editorials resonated with local merchants,” though they irritated Patten's liberal friends, and “our advertising sales skyrocketed," Patten wrote. He praised Bailey's impact on the news side as well. “The Herald won the top prize from the Maine Press Association under his guidance and continued to garner a dozen or so other journalistic prizes each year.”

The Herald had offices in the Highland Mill Mall for 15 years, until Patten moved the newspaper to 45 Mechanic St. for one year. He sold 45 Mechanic to MBNA, and moved the Herald to 69 Elm St., where it occupied one of five condominiums he owned in the building.

Fifteen years later, Patten reflected in his memoir on rescuing “a money-losing business,” and a mellowing of his editorial stance. His children had grown up in Camden, graduated from school, and he was ready for a change. The Republican Journal and Bar Harbor Times had been sold to Courier Publications in 1992, and he wrote about feeling surrounded by a "well-financed chain."

The sale of the Herald to Courier Publications was announced on the Camden newspaper's front page Nov. 7, 1996. Courier Publisher and CEO David Morse maintained that "The Camden Herald will retain its well-earned autonomy and uniqueness, the readers and advertisers will be the winners in this."

In July 1999, American Consolidated Media Inc. of Dallas bought Courier Publications in Rockland, which owned The Bar Harbor Times, The Camden Herald, the Capital Weekly in Augusta, The Courier-Gazette in Rockland, the Ellsworth Weekly, the Lincoln County Weekly in Damariscotta, and The Republican Journal in Belfast. The purchase price reportedly exceeded $11 million.

During the first Courier era, the Herald saw new editors, including Carolyn Marsh and later longtime local reporter, photographer and columnist David Grima. Grima enjoyed shaking things up with creative front pages and confronting Camden's myths about itself.

By this time, change was the only constant in the industry.

In a conference call in June 2008, editors from Bar Harbor to Augusta were given the news that Courier Publications would soon be sold to its arch-rival at the time, VillageSoup.

Richard Anderson had started providing news online in the area several years earlier, changing the name of his websites and companies a few times before settling on VillageSoup. Reporters from The Camden Herald and other Courier Publications newspapers saw themselves as foot soldiers in a newspaper war with VillageSoup for years.

On June 30, 2008, Anderson's company, Village NetMedia Inc., purchased The Camden Herald, The Courier-Gazette, The Bar Harbor Times, The Waldo Independent, The Republican Journal and The Capital Weekly. Previously, Courier Publications was a wholly owned subsidiary of Crescent Publishing Co. of Greenville, S.C., according to Mainebiz.

By November 2008, it was announced that The Camden Herald would be merged with The Courier-Gazette to form The Herald Gazette, which would cover all of Knox County. Management at the time cited economic pressures as the reason for the merger. The Herald Gazette era began Nov. 18 of that year, according to Mainebiz.

Longtime local journalist Emmet Meara mourned the loss in his column in The Bangor Daily News, with the headline: "Camden’s most vital voice is silenced."

"The horrible newspaper news continues," he said. "First the Christian Science Monitor drops its paper edition in favor of the Internet. Now the Camden Herald, 139 years old, is closing its doors."

Despite the loss of the historic name, The Herald Gazette and VillageSoup online continued to publish Camden news during this period, and the company had a Camden office at the busy corner of Elm and Washington streets.

From 2008 to 2012, the news industry suffered as it dealt with online pressures and a massive recession gripped the nation.

In an email message to staff March 9, 2012, Anderson announced that all of the company's publications had ceased operations as of 5 p.m. that day. The closure affected 56 company employees, including sales staff, reporters, editors, graphic designers, office support staff and circulation employees.

On the afternoon of March 12, Reade Brower, known at the time as the founder and owner of The Free Press, signed a letter of intent to purchase the assets of Village NetMedia. That evening he started making plans to build a new management team, hire staff and establish a new company that would bring back the local weekly newspapers under their longtime historical names: The Courier-Gazette in Rockland, The Camden Herald in Camden and The Republican Journal in Belfast (the papers' historic names had been changed under Anderson). Knox.villagesoup.com and Waldo.villagesoup.com would serve as the company's online arms.

Under Brower's ownership, The Camden Herald returned to newsstands Thursday, April 5, 2012, with "1st Edition Collector's Item" printed in red above the masthead. Daniel Dunkle took over managing editor duties for all three papers and Stephanie Grinnell took the helm as editor of The Camden Herald.

On April 18, a group of new and former employees and interested community members celebrated the opening of a new office at 5 Bay View St.

The return of the local newspapers was received with an outpouring of community support from Midcoast residents who had feared losing local news coverage with the closure of Village NetMedia.

The company later moved its office to a building on Washington Street across from Tannery Park.

Grinnell moved within the company to serve as editor of The Republican Journal, where she remains today, and Kim Lincoln took over as editor of The Camden Herald from 2014 to 2017.

Today, The Camden Herald operates out of the Breakwater Marketplace Building at 91 Camden St. in Rockland with Dunkle as editor.

Brower has since purchased numerous weekly and daily newspapers in Maine including The Portland Press Herald, The Lewiston Sun Journal and The Ellsworth American, and has become a household name in the state as a media mogul. He lives in the Midcoast and writes a weekly column for The Camden Herald, The Courier-Gazette and The Republican Journal.

No history of the Camden Herald could be attempted without the work local historian Barbara Dyer has done on this subject. After retiring in 1987 from her 40- year career as accountant and office manager with the Camden Shipbuilding & Marine Railways Co., which became Wayfarer Marine, she began writing about local history. Over more than 30 years, she has produced many books, pamphlets and stories on the shipyards, prominent and ordinary people, town history, historical homes and their inhabitants, the two-volume "Who's Who at Mountain View," about those buried in the local cemetery, and stories of her family's immigration. She has written countless columns for the Herald, which she continues to write to this day.

Among Dyer's primary sources for historical research are the pages of the Camden Herald, which exist on microfilm and bound volumes at the Walsh History Center today. But much of Dyer's work took place in the Herald's various offices, where the bound volumes used to reside in specially made shelving, protected by wood- trimmed glass doors. She was commissioned by the Herald to produce a special Camden-Rockport bicentennial publication in 1969. The Herald heavily promoted the five-day bicentennial celebration in preview stories, and reported on events afterwards.

Reflecting on the value of the Camden Herald in her work, archivist and local historian Moran said, “To me, it's a continuous thread through the social, economic and political lives of our community members. It tells the stories of our families, neighbors and businesses.”

With Maine's 200th anniversary approaching in 2020, “to have a paper that has been recording that journey for 150 of those years since statehood is an amazing resource to look back on,” she said, to see where we've been, and think about what comes next for Maine and our community.

“A local paper reports the local news, and places our community against the backdrop of what is happening nationally or internationally. The value of a local paper, with reporters who live and work in the community, is invaluable. To have a paper such as the Herald recording our lives continuously since 1869? Priceless.”

Throughout its 150 years, The Camden Herald has survived and continued to report the news in this community because of the hard work of many employees and owners, and the support of its many advertisers and readers.

Click here to read about the special legislative sentiment presented on behalf of the Herald by State Rep. Vicki Doudera, D-Camden.

Daniel Dunkle contributed to this story.