122 Years Young: A milestone moment for the city’s newspaper of record

Today is a milestone moment in Tacoma Daily Index‘s history: the newspaper is 122 years old.

The newspaper was first published on May 1, 1890 as a single-sheet under the name of the Daily Mortgage and Lien Record. The name then changed to the Daily Court and Commercial Index before finally settling permanently on the Tacoma Daily Index. Over its lifetime, our small legal newspaper has been a major source of information for Tacoma and Pierce County residents, attorneys, and business leaders looking to keep up on matters related to legal notices, new business announcements, property sales, and news about city, county and state government.

The newspaper passed through the hands of only a handful of owners. Victor J. Hedberg and his business partner, J. D. Ogden, bought the paper in 1931 when then-owner H. H. Johnson, who owned the paper for 17 years, passed away. Before that, R. B. Whitaker, the paper’s original publisher, owned the Index for 24 years. But no one owned the paper longer than Marshall B. Skidmore, who led the publication for 37 years before selling it to Sound Publishing and retiring in 1997 (see “Tacoma’s Record Keeper,” TDI, 08/23/07).

The Tacoma Daily Index recently moved its headquarters out of the Washington Building in downtown Tacoma and into a building near South 4th Street and Tacoma Avenue South, just steps away from Wright Park. Packing up the office provided an opportunity to uncover some historic “artifacts” related to our old newspaper. One example: an old photograph of the newspaper’s first headquarters. When the newspaper opened its doors in 1890, it did so inside a five-story stone-and-brick building located at 1110-1116 Pacific Avenue.

I recently decided to visit our old headquarters site. According to Tacoma Public Library’s Northwest Room, the California Building (pictured above in a black and white photo ca. 1890 and courtesy of the Tacoma Public Library) was home to Merrick Brothers clothing and shoe store; St. John’s Pharmacy; I.J. Sharick jewelers; and Fidelity Rent & Collection Company. A photographer and “crayon artist” named Arthur French had a live/work space there, too. Sadly, the building was demolished in 1931 and replaced by a parking garage.

As for the Tacoma Daily Index, she’s looking forward to another 122 years.

TOP: Tacoma native Marshall B. Skidmore, with his son, Rob, in October of 1989, outside the Tacoma Daily Index's office on Pacific Avenue in downtown Tacoma. Skidmore, who passed away on July 23, 2007, at the age of 83, owned the Index for 37 years (PHOTO COURTESY SKIDMORE FAMILY); ABOVE RIGHT: When our newspaper opened its doors in 1890, it did so inside a five-story stone-and-brick building located at 1110-1116 Pacific Avenue in downtown Tacoma. The building was demolished in 1931 to make way for a parking garage (PHOTO BY TODD MATTHEWS / HISTORIC PHOTO COURTESY TACOMA PUBLIC LIBRARY); Forget iPads and laptops. An advertisement for a new electric typewriter ran in the Tacoma Daily Index on Oct. 8, 1964.(PHOTOS VIA TACOMA DAILY INDEX)

TOP: Tacoma native Marshall B. Skidmore, with his son, Rob, in October of 1989, outside the Tacoma Daily Index’s office on Pacific Avenue in downtown Tacoma. Skidmore, who passed away on July 23, 2007, at the age of 83, owned the Index for 37 years (PHOTO COURTESY SKIDMORE FAMILY); ABOVE RIGHT: When our newspaper opened its doors in 1890, it did so inside a five-story stone-and-brick building located at 1110-1116 Pacific Avenue in downtown Tacoma. The building was demolished in 1931 to make way for a parking garage (PHOTO BY TODD MATTHEWS / HISTORIC PHOTO COURTESY TACOMA PUBLIC LIBRARY); Forget iPads and laptops. An advertisement for a new electric typewriter ran in the Tacoma Daily Index on Oct. 8, 1964.(PHOTOS VIA TACOMA DAILY INDEX)

Todd Matthews is editor of the Tacoma Daily Index and recipient of an award for Outstanding Achievement in Media from the Washington State Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation for his work covering historic preservation in Tacoma and Pierce County. He has earned four awards from the Society of Professional Journalists, including first-place honors for his feature article about Seattle’s bike messengerssecond-place honors for his feature article about whistle-blowers in Washington State; third-place honors for his feature article about the University of Washington’s Innocence Project; and third-place honors for his feature interview with Prison Legal News founder Paul Wright. His work has appeared in All About Jazz, City Arts Tacoma, Earshot Jazz, Homeland Security Today, Jazz Steps, Journal of the San Juans, Lynnwood-Mountlake Terrace Enterprise, Prison Legal News, Rain Taxi, Real Change, Seattle Business Monthly, Seattle magazine, Tablet, Washington CEO, Washington Law & Politics, and Washington Free Press. He is a graduate of the University of Washington and holds a bachelor’s degree in communications. His journalism is collected online at wahmee.com.