Alan Baker, owner and publisher of the Ellsworth American and Mount Desert Islander weekly newspapers, stands outside the front entrance of the Ellsworth newspaper's office on Water Street on July 25, 2018. Baker said he is selling the papers to Reade Brower of Rockland, who owns more than two dozen other newspapers in Maine. The Bangor Daily News is the only daily newspaper in the state that Brower does not own. Credit: Bill Trotter

ELLSWORTH, Maine — The Ellsworth American and Mount Desert Islander weekly newspapers in Hancock County have been sold to a man who owns several other newspapers in the state.

Reade Brower of Rockland is owner of six of Maine’s daily newspapers and 19 Maine weeklies. The Bangor Daily News is the only daily newspaper in the state he does not own.

In a story published Wednesday morning on the Ellsworth American website, Brower said the American has a “long legacy of excellence” and that it and its sister paper, based in Bar Harbor, are known for quality, award-winning journalism.

“I have admired the work of [American and Islander owner and publisher] Alan Baker, and his papers, over the decades [and] I’ve been privileged to call him a colleague and a friend,” Brower told the paper. “Alan is a true champion of journalism in Maine and we will do our best to maintain and continue the journey.”

The sale of the papers is due to close Aug. 31. The terms of the sale, including the purchase price, were not disclosed.

The Ellsworth American was founded in 1851, while the Mount Desert Islander was founded in 2001. They have a combined print circulation of approximately 13,000 and employ a combined staff of 60 people.

The article did not disclose the size of the weekly newspapers’ online digital audience.

Lisa Desisto, CEO and publisher of the companies that run Brower’s publications, on Wednesday confirmed Brower’s agreement to purchase the papers but declined to discuss terms.

She said the the two weeklies’ newsrooms would continue to operate independently of other papers he owns. She said she’s “looking forward” to discussions about sharing content between the two paper’s and Brower’s other properties, as several papers he owns already do.

She said that a new brand name for the collective Brower media properties would be announced soon.

Baker, who lives in Orrington, joined the Ellsworth American staff in 1986, was named publisher in 1989, and purchased the paper in January 1991, the newspaper reported. He will turn 89 next week.

In a brief interview Wednesday outside the American offices, Baker said he does not plan to hang around after the sale is complete. Brower has a reputation for being a hands-off owner, in terms of newsroom operations, he said, and the papers already have strong leadership teams in place. He said he thinks they will adjust well to not having the owner in the building every day.

“I wanted to sell the papers while I still had my boots on,” he said. “Everyone is excited.”

BDN writer Jake Bleiberg contributed to this report.

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A news reporter in coastal Maine for more than 20 years, Bill Trotter writes about how the Atlantic Ocean and the state's iconic coastline help to shape the lives of coastal Maine residents and visitors....