The Story of the Nautilus

      The story of Holyoke's only magazine publishing company is unique and at the same time typical of the city's life and growth. Both vibrate to the keynote of those lines of Oliver Wendell Holmes', that appear on the title page of every number of the Nautilus:

"Build thee more stately mansions, oh my soul!
        As the swift seasons roll!
        Leave thy low vaulted past!
Let each new temple nobler than the last,
Shut thee from heaven with a dome more vast,
        Till thou at length art free,
Leaving thine outgrown shell by life's unresting sea!"

      On Sunday morning of December 9, 1910, Holyoke waked up to find that a smart fire had broken out and gotten enough headway during the night to destroy the home of one of Holyoke's very prominent families and reduced one of its flourishing enterprises to a state of utter disorganization. It was the home of Mr. and Mrs. William E. Towne, and of the Nautilus. Now people who are in the neighborhood of Oak and Cabot streets are sure to stop and take note of the very interesting and unusual building that has risen from the ashes of the old home of the Nautilus. Every day people are asking what that building is. It is too large for an ordinary city home, built too lavishly to be an apartment house, and it does not proclaim industry from its many windows and generous porches. Strangers usually decide that it is a school house—and that is not a bad guess either. For years the nautilus office has been known as the high school annex because its editor, Mrs. Elizabeth Towne, insists that all of her employes shall have been trained in some high school.

Elizabeth Towne

William E. Towne

      The very unusual home is ideal for its purpose. here is no makeshift about it. It was planned to be the business home of the Nautilus, and the domestic home of Mr. William E. Towne. From the stock room to the great fourth floor, spaces yet undeveloped, the building meets the needs for which it is used.
      Outside is a red pressed brick and limestone with coigns of white pressed brick. The whole is solid steel and concrete construction. The gambrel roof is finished with gray asbestos century shingles. The partitions between rooms are made of gypsum blocks covered with cement plaster. Upstairs in the living rooms the floor is overlaid with quartered oak. Even the electric light wires are all run through metal conduits. The building stands 80x45 feet, the length on Cabot street, and still space is left to have a terraced lawn on every side. The high basement, lighted as well as any business office, is really larger than the ground plan of the house because it extends out under the several porches. Here are the stockrooms and mailing department, for besides the Nautilus the Elizabeth Towne Company issues many publications, including about a score of books.
      One the ground floor one enters from Cabot street by a wide concrete porch to an entrance hall which leads to the great main office room where the twenty-three Nautilus girls sit at the many desks, doing the many things that have to be attended to in a publishing house. If Elizabeth Towne is proud of anything more than any other thing, it is of the office girls. She selects them with great care and they look like a sewing club or a lot of college girls, more than anything else.

Home of the Nautilus

      "Our office supplies schooling as well as work," says Mrs. Towne. "We teach the best methods we now for doing all kinds of work believing that responsibilities honestly discharged and all work efficiently and good-willingly done make for character, and character makes for success and happiness and health. Honest work for the worker's sake is the first principle of our business. We 'graduate' our workers just as a school does—when a helper reaches the place where she no longer grows by doing our work, we are glad to present her with our little 'Well done,' as a sort of diploma, and pass her on to new opportunities. In the ten years of our experience with Holyoke girls, we have had over seventy in our employ, for periods ranging from six weeks to more than seven years. Many of the finest positions in the city and elsewhere are now filled by girls who are glad of what they learned with us. Several are applying efficiency methods in their own happy homes. We are proud of our girls."
      On one side of the entrance to the Nautilus home is a pretty reception room furnished in panelled oak and with a cushioned settee, blue and brown color finish. Opposite is the office of Chester Holt Struble, managing editor. Back of Mr. Struble's office, occupying the southwest corner of the building, is he many windowed office of William E. Towne, editor of American New Life, publisher of several books and associate editor of the Nautilus. There are filing cabinets galore, dressing rooms, bubbling fountains, and even a convenience as a wide hat rack for the pretty millinery of the Nautilus girls.
      much for a brief story of the fine home of the Nautilus, which was ready for business and living within ten months from the day the flames destroyed the old building. To accomplish all this meant wise planning and much labor. W.B. Reid, as architect, put Mrs. Towne's ideas into formal plans. F.H. Dibble was the general contractor. Preston & Moore did the electric wiring, putting all wires in metal conduits, and including a house telephone system by which every room was put in touch with all the other rooms. C.F. Sullivan did the plumbing, which is as perfectly planned from bubbling drinking fountains to fine bath rooms as could be done. The decorating was by Johannis, and Hall of Springfield put in the electric light fixtures.
      When all is told about the building it only typifies what the building stands for. Curiously enough Holyoke knows less about the Nautilus than does Boston or New York or Chicago or Spokane or Denver. Hardly a week passes but some one from afar, traveling in these parts, stops of a train to look up the Nautilus and Elizabeth Towne herself is of course a well now personality in Holyoke, but it is not so generally understood that almost 50,000 of the Nautilus are mailed out of Holyoke each month, besides the big subscription book business done by the firm. It is far and away the largest customer of the Holyoke postoffice. It takes four girls a whole week to wrap up a single issue of the Nautilus. All this has grown from the most modest beginnings.
      Three thousand five hundred copies of the first number of the Nautilus were printed at a cost of $25. It was then a tiny four-page paper printed in Portland, Ore.
      In May, 1900, Mrs. Towne brought the Nautilus to Holyoke. The first issue if the Nautilus made in Holyoke, June 1900, was 4,5000 copies, and the printer's bill was just $36.93, including the wrapping.
      At this writing 47,500 copies of the Nautilus have been printed and distributed for the current issue at a cost of $2,000. This little four-page paper has grown to be a handsome illustrated magazine.
      Mrs. Towne is the editor of the Nautilus and inspires its general policy.
      William E. Towne is the associate editor and writes most of the Nautilus advertising, in addition to publishing his own quarterly, American New Life, and carrying on his regular work of selling books by mail.
      Mrs. Towne's son, Chester, who carried the first issue of the Nautilus down to the postoffice, on his shoulder, is now associated with the Nautilus as Chester Holt Struble, managing editor and advertising manager.
      These three form the trinity that is evolving the bigger, better, brighter Nautilus, exponent of New Thought, self-help, and human efficiency through self-knowledge.
      Recently the Nautilus business has been incorporated as the Elizabeth Towne Company, a close corporation. The Elizabeth Towne Company owns the magazine and carries on all the book and subscription business connected with the publishing of the Nautilus.
      There is hardly a civilized or uncivilized country on the globe where the mails of the Postal Union penetrate that Nautilus doesn't visit regularly. Even to the Fiji Islands and to Macedonia. His Excellency Wu Ting Fang is a Nautilus subscriber. In English speaking countries the Nautilus goes to the homes of all sorts of people, proletariat, bourgeoisie, and the aristocrat. There are many persons of title on the list. A great many of the subscribers grace the pages of "Who's Who in America," and the "International Who's Who." A Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of one state sends Nautilus to seven of his friends. One at least of the great multi-millionaires studies it regularly and recommends it to his friends. Down in New Orleans a poor little woman who owns a tiny vegetable stand in the big market finds Nautilus her solace and inspiration. And rich man, poor man, beggar man, thief, doctor, lawyer, merchant, chief, fill up the Nautilus subscription ranks between.
      Yes, thief. There are several convicts in state prisons who are finding self-help through Nautilus.
      The Nautilus work has grown and spread and attracted the attention of many famous people, some of whom have become its contributors. Willa Wheeler Wilcox and Edwin Markham, Anne Warner, Edward B. Warman, A.M., Horatio W. Dresser and Orison Swett Marden are among the well-known helpers who contribute some of their best work to the Nautilus. William Walker Atkinson, one of the leading New Thought writers of the world, has joined the staff of writers.
      While the Nautilus has been thus growing and expanding its editors' books have been selling by the hundreds of thousands. Mrs. Towne is the author of thirteen books of various sizes, and the publisher of many more. One of her own books has reached a sale of nearly a hundred thousand copies, which is most remarkable for a work of this kind. "Experiences in Self-Healing," which contains the life story of the author, covering a period of twenty years, has also had a tremendous sale.
      Besides her editorial, book making and home making life, Mrs. Towne is a lecturer of note, having crossed the continent on lecture tours. She has a generous paragraph in "Who's Who?" the standard American Hall of Fame. She is a member of the International Lyceum Club. In Holyoke she is deeply interested in local philanthropic work, with a special fondness for the Holyoke Boys' Club.
      Her twelve years' residence here has made her an ardent Holyoker, and a lover of all New England. People who meet Mrs. Towne are at once impressed with the qualities that have created her success. She has a message and the brains to present it well. She has high courage, rare judgment, a most attractive personality and with all these an immense capacity for hard work. These qualities mean success in any path in life. They have led to the practical application of the motto of the Nautilus and caused for it the building of "more stately mansions."

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