I have finally made it through two whole years of newspapers online and at the microfilm machine at the Florida Gateway College Library. I have a standing appointment 4 days a week for the next three weeks for 2 hours a day to try and get through as many reels of microfilm as quickly as I can. It is much easier to just save the pages into PDF documents and then email them to myself. I have got to get one of those flash drives next payday. It takes forever to zip the documents into files small enough to email. I have been zipping up 1 day per file and uploading 3 files to keep the attachments small enough not to error out and sending them to various emails to share the load. Then I have to retrieve each one, unzip each file, cut and paste all the documents into a folder together then sort them by file name. The machine automatically numbers each page you download then I rename them to the date of the newspaper.
Extremely tedious, I know, but I can get through about 6 months worth of newspapers this way and then go home, grab a bite and look at each one on my laptop. They are still not searchable so I have to blow up the page 400% and look down each column for a reference to the hotel or one of the people involved. The hardest part is not to go off on a tangent. I have found myself several times skipping ahead a couple of years trying to find articles about certain events to get a better outline going for the book. Right now it looks like I may be doing 1 chapter per decade. But we will have to see how it goes. I am also researching the people involved in the project from the original land-owner/building owner to the managers of the hotels. The Historical Building application gave me some names and I am finding others while I scan through the newspapers. I have made it through 1901 and 1902.
Did you know that there were two newspapers during the beginning of the hotel in Lake City? One was The Florida Index which stopped publishing in 1918 and is available online (well most of it is anyway) and the Citizen Reporter which started as the Lake City Reporter then became the Citizen Reporter then became the Lake City Reporter again and on and on until the present day. The Index was a 4 page weekly and the Citizen was an 8-page weekly both coming out on the same days. Neither really posted a whole lot about what was happening in and around the county. Mostly, so-and-so left town to visit relatives or someone has been in town doing business, yadda-yadda-yadda. They both published just about the same information just one had more advertisements than the other and they both seemed to be really concerned about people’s health. Whoever was hired to scan the old Citizen pages in for microfilming did a fairly poor job of it. I know that the papers were old but they could have, at least, made sure that the page was legible. I’m beginning to wish that I could just go into a cold storage room, put on some white gloves and take pictures of the items as I find them but I know that would take entirely too much time and I don’t think the records are available anymore.
The main thing I was looking for was a story about the opening day of the hotel. Neither newspaper ever printed anything about that. Just that it was being built, supplies and furniture ordered and then it was available for all the guests coming for the BIG FLORIDA STATE FAIR. Apparently, it was a hotly contested contract at the time. I guess with all the anticipated visitors they couldn’t take time out to announce the official opening day for the hotel. The ledger did an expanded edition with 19 pages the week of the Fair and the Citizen did 4-morning editions of 4 pages each. The hotel did advertise in the Citizen so we copied those to add to that chapter. From what we can guess the Blanche Hotel officially opened on November 3, 1902.