New location, same dedication: Marco Eagle moves into new office

Lisa Conley
Marco Eagle
Damage from Hurricane Irma can be seen at the Marco Eagle office on Monday, September 11, 2017 in Marco Island, Fla.

The Marco Eagle has been a proud part of the Marco Island community for 50 years, and since the very beginning it's been housed at 579 E. Elkcam Circle in a building designed by then-publisher William Tamplin. On Sept. 10, Hurricane Irma destroyed the building and almost everything in it. 

More:Irma: How Marco Island weathered the storm

"There’s been a lot of Marco Island history that has taken place within the walls of the Eagle office over the years," TJ Boone, Marco Eagle manager, said. "I’ve had former employees contact me to share stories and express sadness about the catastrophic damage that the building suffered. This year would have been a milestone: 50 years."

Irma's 135-mph winds ripped the building's roof off with ease, leaving the interior completely open to the elements. As a result, nearly everything inside got drenched, and the floor was littered with pieces of insulation, ceiling tiles and other debris.

The Marco Eagle has been located at 579 E. Elkcam Circle on Marco Island, Fla. since 1968. On Sept. 10, 2017, Hurricane Irma destroyed the building.

A few days after the storm, the Eagle's seven employees met at the building to sort through the rubble and save what they could, which wasn't much.

"We tried to salvage what we could, but almost everything was covered in insulation and had gotten wet, so we just took out some photos and supplies that weren't ruined and left the rest behind," Mary Quinton, Marco Eagle advertising account executive, said. "After working in the building for so many years, it was kind of an eerie feeling."

"At first it was very surreal and unsettling," Linda Flores, Eagle advertising account executive, added. "When you spend the majority of your time at work, it becomes like a second home."

Mary Quinton and Linda Flores look over some work in the new Marco Eagle office.

Boone said that after seeing the extent of the damage, it was obvious that the newspaper would need a new office for the foreseeable future. Of course, the Eagle wasn't the only business trying to relocate after Irma; there were two other businesses just within its own building: Island Montessori Academy and Advanced Insurance Underwriters.

So with demand high and supply low, finding a new space was a challenge.

"There were multiple businesses that suffered damage and were looking for new locations on the island, and there was limited commercial space available," Boone said. "But being a community newspaper, a physical presence in the community is paramount, so I knew we needed to act quickly to ensure an on-island location."

Damage from Hurricane Irma can be seen at the Marco Eagle office on Monday, Sept. 11, 2017, in Marco Island, Fla.

In the meantime, the team members either worked from the Naples Daily News newsroom, their homes or the Marco Island Area Chamber of Commerce.

"I’ve been working out of the Marco Island Chamber of Commerce office since the first week after the hurricane," Quinton said. "We did not have internet at home so I asked (the Chamber) if it would be okay if I took up some space there, and it’s been great; I try to help the people who walk in wanting to learn more about the island, and it's such a social environment that I wouldn’t mind continuing to work there a couple days a week."

"I would like to thank the Marco Island Area Chamber of Commerce and its executive director, Dianna Dohm, who graciously offered use of their conference room for Eagle staff to work and meet with clients," Boone added.

Now, almost six months after the storm, the Marco Eagle finally has a place to call home.

The newspaper's new office is located on the second floor of the Mutual of Omaha building at the corner of San Marco Road and Barfield Drive. The office is currently not open to the public; readers, advertisers and other visitors should call ahead to make an appointment. 

There will be a ribbon cutting ceremony and open house at 4:45 p.m., March 14.