By Anna Lothson
After 135 years with offices in Oak Park, Oak Leaves and Forest Leaves will soon shutter its current Lake Street office as its owner, Sun-Times Media Group consolidates all its suburban newspaper properties into the downtown headquarters of the Sun-Times.
Right now Oak Leaves, and the handful of other near West Suburban titles published by Pioneer Press, are housed in a 3,000 square foot space on an upper floor of the 1010 Lake St. building -- just east of the Lake Theater. For many years before that, Pioneer was in a 10,000 square foot office space set behind the Penzey's Spice store on Lake near Harlem. The departure of the newspaper from that hard-to-lease space at the rear of the building helped push the historically named Oak Leaves building into foreclosure.
The announcement of the suburban office closings came Dec. 20 from Jim Kirk, Sun-Times senior vice president and editor in chief, who released a memo about the changes. Local suburban reporters will become mobile journalists and work in the field, while all production staff and editors will work downtown.
The move is intended to help the various Pioneer Press and Sun-Times publications improve collaboration, according to Kirk. He indicated that the downsizing in buildings does not mean layoffs for any staff, though the change may reveal positions that are duplicated.
The news was released shortly after the resignation of Pioneer Press Executive Editor Jason Schaumburg and about a month after Publisher Chris Krug left the company.
Over its century-plus in Oak Park, Pioneer has been housed in various locations. For many years it was located in a now demolished commercial building on Lake Street near the high school. It spent a decade in the Carleton Hotel on Marion Street in space now notable as the home of Poor Phil's. And for many decades the Oak Leaves was published from a large and rambling old house at the corner of Kenilworth and South Blvd. That site is now a dry cleaners.
Wednesday Journal continues to operate out of its 31-year home at 141 S. Oak Park Ave.