On Sept. 18, 1965, Thurston N. Davis, S.J., editor in chief of America, announced in this space that the offices of America were relocating from the Upper West Side of Manhattan to our current Midtown location on 56th Street. This was the fourth time America’s offices had moved since its founding in 1909. “For years,” Father Davis explained to our readers, “we have worked out of an editorial and business office that were five miles apart. Now everything is under one roof.”
It was no easy task to pick up and move: America’s headquarters had been located at 329 West 108th Street for nearly 40 years. But Father Davis, rightly regarded as the second founder of America, saw that the world was changing. More and more Americans were getting their news from radio and television rather than from print, a change that was accelerated by the momentous events of that tragic November weekend two years before. Father Davis recognized that if America was to survive and prosper in this new world, then the editorial and business functions would need to be more closely integrated and, most of all, the organization would need a space that was better suited to a mid-20th century apostolate. As the N.H.L. great Wayne Gretzky once said, “a good hockey player plays where the puck is. A great hockey player plays where the puck is going to be.” Father Davis, like his predecessors, was a great hockey player.
So it was with a prayer for the intercession of Father Davis that I recently announced the sale of our headquarters building in Midtown Manhattan. This was a long time in coming. The current nine-story building houses not just our offices and its 25 employees but a residence for approximately 20 Jesuits. Months of arduous negotiations, a few false starts and a lot of deal making, not to mention a lot of prayer, went into the process. It was apparent, however, that as much as we cherish this house, we needed to skate to where the puck is headed.
The sale achieves three goals: First, in a rapidly changing publishing environment, the sale will provide baseline financial security for the future of America Media. Second, the transaction will give us the resources to continue our multiplatform expansion, including the redesign of existing platforms and the launch of new digital products and video. Lastly, the transaction will allow us to create a modern facility to house our operations, one more suited to 21st-century America.
America Media will remain in New York City. It is one of the most important social communications apostolates of the Society of Jesus and should be located in the capital of global communications. We have now begun an intensive search for commercial office space in Manhattan to house the headquarters of America Media. Just as Father Davis sought to ensure that the business and editorial departments would be housed under one roof, we are looking for a space where both departments can be housed on the same floor, for the integration of both functions that Father Davis so presciently foresaw continues apace in the digital age.
The Jesuit community will relocate to a renovated facility at 120 West 60th Street, just across the street from the entrance to Fordham University’s Lincoln Center campus. America Media and the Jesuit community expect to complete their moves within the next 12 months.
With this move we renew our commitment to you to provide a smart, Catholic take on faith and culture, every week in print, every day online, every hour in social media. We earnestly pray that we will continue to be worthy for many years to come of both your trust and the noble legacy we have inherited.