Renovations of a downtown building uncovered a piece of Jamestown history this week.
Brian Lunde and crews from Hillius Construction were renovating a building along First Street Southwest, formerly the offices of Witthauer Insurance, when they discovered a sign on one of the corners proclaiming the building the office of the "Daily Alert."
The Alert, one of Jamestown's early newspapers, was first published on July 4, 1878. The name of the newspaper was changed to The Jamestown Sun in 1926.
A search of The Jamestown Alert archives through the Library of Congress found the Alert moved to the location on First Street Southwest in February 1905 from a location a half block to the east. A brief article on page 5 of the Feb. 2, 1905, edition of the Alert apologized to the community for the disruption of the move which was "a job of no little dimensions and in a short time it is hoped things will be running more smoothly."
The article reminded people the new office was just west of the James River National Bank building, now Babb's Coffee House, on what was then Main Street of Jamestown.
The Jamestown Alert was owned by W.R. Kellogg at the time of the move. Kellogg was the third owner of the Alert which was launched by the Foster Brothers who sold the paper to Marshall McClure in 1879.
McClure was owner, publisher, editor and reporter for the paper during his time in Jamestown. Sometime in the 1880s, when leaders in the southern part of the Dakota Territory were plotting to steal the capital back from Bismarck and restoring it to Yankton, McClure hid under a table in a restaurant to take notes during a meeting of those leaders. They dropped the plans when the article that McClure wrote was published, according to McClure's obituary that ran in the Alert in 1906.
McClure sold the Alert to Kellogg in 1886 when McClure developed an interest in the Colorado goldfields. Kellogg was owner and publisher of the newspaper until he sold it to the Hansen Brothers in 1926.
Over the years, the offices of the Alert/Sun have also been located at what is now First Avenue South in the location of Jonny B's Brickhouse, north of the railroad tracks in a building currently housing Central Valley Health District and its current location at Second Avenue Northwest.
Lunde said he was surprised to see the Alert sign when they removed some boards at the corner of the building.
After the renovation work is complete, the building is expected to house an Italian restaurant seating about 50 people with a small bar. The restaurant is planned to open shortly after the first of the year.