Atascadero printery moves closer to restoration



Locals have a plan to turn one of Atascadero's oldest buildings into a thriving community center, and they're closer than ever to making that goal a reality.

The printery was the first civic building built in Atascadero in 1915, originally serving the Women's National Republic Publishing Company, said Karen McNamara, president of the Printery Foundation board.

"Atascadero was supposed to be a colony of the Women's National Republic, so they put the printery in first so they would have jobs and an income for the corporation as they built the city," McNamara said.

COMMUNITY CENTER This architectural rendering shows how the Atascadero Printery Foundation hopes to restore one of the city's oldest buildings. - PHOTO COURTESY OF THE PRINTERY FOUNDATION
  • Photo Courtesy Of The Printery Foundation
  • COMMUNITY CENTER This architectural rendering shows how the Atascadero Printery Foundation hopes to restore one of the city's oldest buildings.

But in the 100 years since the building was first constructed, its shape has slowly worsened, rendering it unsafe for use. The 2003 San Simeon earthquake left the building unstable with large cracks in the brick. The Printery Foundation already completed a big repair of a crack caused by the earthquake, but it will take more to make the printery safe for occupancy again.

"The building has to be retrofitted for seismic activity, so that's what we're raising funds for now so we can get the doors open," McNamara said. "We've done a lot of cleanup, we've done some shoring."

A big milestone for the Printery Foundation this year was submitting those retrofit plans to the city.

"We've laid the foundation to get the ball rolling and actually do the work to improve the building," said Vy Pierce, fundraising chair for the foundation. "There's been a lot happening behind the scenes. We've raised almost $300,000 just to pay for plans and do some repair work on the corners of the building."

The foundation recently announced a matching gift of up to $100,000 in memory of Gaylen Little, a longtime Atascadero resident, and has already received $18,000 toward that matching fund.

With the plans submitted to the city and the money to back it up, Pierce said the printery will ideally be able to open in a year.

"We're in the revision period right now, so we expect to get those permits in the spring," she said. "So it's just a matter of getting the funding to do the work."

The vision is that the printery will serve as a community hub for the arts, for gathering, and more.

"We want to have the community be able to use the space for pop-up events, maybe have the adjacent school groups be able to use the space to do performances, which they don't have that space right now in the community," Pierce said.

The foundation also plans to eventually add a 200-seat theater to the printery in partnership with the Atascadero Performing Arts Center Committee, a longer term project that will come after the printery gets its doors open.

"We want [to take] this building that's been a blight on our community and make it a vibrant part of our economy again," Pierce said. Δ


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