My office at 202 East Marcy St. currently is guarded by an asymmetrical igloo of brown boxes, most stuffed with flotsam and junk that belongs to someone, just not me.

It’s what I get for taking a week off and failing to lock the door.

Outside the window that lets me peer into the newsroom, big hunks of floor space are as vacant as pastureland — save for a set of wires here, loose change there, depleted pens everywhere.

Maybe 40 steps away, a few desks are holding on, waiting to be wrestled and dismantled. Once in a while, someone I don’t know — a mover, certainly — eyes what’s left with a ravenous determination.

Yup, we really are leaving the building this newspaper has called home since 1942.

In the not-too-distant future, The New Mexican is moving into a new future. Maybe you’d heard; in the fall, we announced the intention to lease our longtime home and find a new one. Until I heard my voice echo back from the sports department 30 yards away, I guess I really didn’t believe it.

I do now.

As moves go, this one isn’t all that wrenching, at least not for most of us. Door to door, our new office is a two-minute walk from the one we occupy now. Soon, we’ll be up and running at 150 Washington — still downtown, still central, still vibrant.

But certainly, different. Let’s face it: The Marcy Street location had been the heart of The New Mexican from the time of its construction — through the paper’s growth; its purchase and sale and reacquisition by the McKinney family; the construction of a new printing plant on the south side; the ambitious renovation of the newsroom facility.

In a lot of ways, the building has come to symbolize the changes in U.S. newspapers. We’re still around, still kicking up dust, but much more wary about economic realities that keep every business — media in particular — wary.

The move, as publisher Tom Cross said at the time of the announcement, helps secure The New Mexican’s future without compromising its present. Leasing the Marcy Street structure to the Administrative Office of the Courts while acquiring a new space to rent makes economic sense — particularly since our newsroom and administrative personnel filled only a small portion of the facility’s 29,500 square feet.

Newspapers all over the country have done the same thing, or wish they could.

When Cross first told me of the plan, I felt relief. Though most good newspapers are akin to community trusts — imperfect but invaluable — they’re also for-profit businesses. Anything we can do to help the bottom line, with minimal impact to our core mission, is a good thing both for journalism and the community at large.

Cementing that reality are the events of the past two years. Before March 15, 2020, if you’d told me we could produce a newspaper with much of the editorial staff working from home, I’d have said you were crazy. But during huge hunks of the pandemic, we’ve done it. Nearly all our reporters and editors and some of our page designers have at times worked remotely.

It’s a weird way to do journalism; at the end of the day, this is a people business. Zoom ain’t people. But name me a fundamental COVID-19 hasn’t jostled.

Watching the case counts detonate once again, we sent most of our newsroom home just two weeks ago in hopes of keeping our people and anyone else healthy. I wish it were something we didn’t have to do, but this is the world we live in. Someday soon, we’ll be together again.

Which is to say: Bricks and mortar matter, but not nearly as much as they did when Robert McKinney bought The New Mexican in 1949.

Still, I can’t think about the move without a twinge, particularly as I think about McKinney’s daughter, Robin Martin, who now owns the newspaper. For her, 202 East Marcy St. isn’t an address. It’s her childhood, her family. She grew up here as her dad ran the paper. And unlike a lot of owners who sold out to corporations or hedge funds or just unfurled a white flag as the business changed, she’s hung tough, determined to give us every opportunity to make the newspaper a great one.

Robin generously wrote me a two-page note about her memories of the building. In it, she recalled the little-girl version of herself sitting on a red rug in her dad’s office as he talked on the phone. Her first job was washing the floor-to-ceiling cabinets behind the classified and advertising desks — a dirty duty, because any building with a printing plant within it is going to be powder-coated in ink.

When she got older, she stripped the teletype machines and made decisions on which wire stories and photos would run on A2.

She can still hear the rhythms of the old presses. She can still smell the fragrance of the ink, the cigarette smoke, the sweat of the long-departed composing room.

How could it not be emotional?

But deadlines absorb tears better than any tissue. Soon, we’ll be creating newspapers and reporting the news from a new address. The next era is about to begin, fortified and inspired by all that happened on 202 East Marcy St. and the people who worked here for 80 years.

Phill Casaus is editor of The New Mexican.

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