Remembering the Union Hotel

SPJ, NJSPJ mark

hotel’s historic role

SPJ New Jersey celebrated a special event in Flemington where we unveiled a plaque that marked the Union Hotel’s entry on SPJ’s national historic sites in journalism registry.

About 35 people attended the ceremony June 30th  when we presented the plaque to the Hunterdon County Historical Society Library in downtown Flemington. Hear the ceremony at Studio SPJ.

David Levitt does the honors.

The Historical Society has agreed to serve as temporary custodian of the plaque until the future of the Union Hotel is resolved.

The hotel served as a media hub for journalists who came from around the world to cover the Lindbergh baby kidnap-murder trial which took place at the courthouse across the street in January 1935.

Among the journalists covering that trial were:

  • Arthur Brisbane, one of the best-known editors of his day who worked for the Hearst Newspapers
  • H.L. Mencken, the well-known journalist, satirist and social critic from Baltimore.
  • Dorothy Parker, the wisecracking writer from Long Branch who became part of the famous Algonquin Hotel roundtable writers.
  • Walter Winchell, the newspaper and radio gossip columnist who wrote for the Hearst papers.
  • Damon Runyon, the journalist whose stories about characters in New York City were collected in his book “Guys and Dolls.”

SPJ New Jersey recognizes that the Union Hotel has seen some hard times since 1935 and that it’s not what it was when these journalists came to town.

We also note that there has been a fierce debate over the future of the hotel and its redevelopment.

Our role is not to weigh in on the details of that dispute.

But our plaque says loud and clear that this site represents a significant chapter in the history of American journalism.

John Ensslin gives a tip of the SPJ fedora to Region 1 Director Jane Primerano, who was the driving force within SPJ to secure the Union Hotel as New Jersey’s first historic site in journalism.

We hope that in some fashion the site is preserved for future generations to appreciate.

Special thanks here to Patricia Millen, executive director of the historical society, for taking care of our plaque and making this event possible.

Remembering the CapGazette

The dreadful murders of five people within the Capitol-Gazette newsroom in Annapolis last week has left many of us shaken and sorrowful.

We greatly admire the “Hell Yes” persistence of their colleagues who published their paper while working through their grief.

SPJ New Jersey shares that grief.

At our board meeting in Flemington, we voted to donate $100 to the GoFundMe campaign that was set up to help the families of those whose lives were lost.

It is the least we can do to honor their memory.

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