I have been a member of the Atascadero Historical Society for more than 30 years. I’ve served as a director, museum docent, president and now as the society’s historian, replacing the late Marj Mackey.
Today’s column is definitely filled with “self-interest” as I look forward to another of the organization’s Colony Home Tours set for this coming Saturday from 1 to 4 p.m. These tours have been held each April for the past 25 or more years.
The society estimates there are approximately 300 Colony homes still standing out of the thousands built between 1915 and 1925.
The directors of the society have always considered these homes to be an extension of the museum itself because they represent the people who followed E.G. Lewis to his 23,000-acre utopian community carved from the more than 45,000-acre La Asuncion y Atascadero Mexican land grant.
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Atascadero’s Colony homes range from the more elegant Catalina Ranch house out on Santa Lucia Avenue or the W.B. Ewalt house (on last year’s tour), to modest Craftsman bungalows, Sears’ “kit houses” and even poured-concrete structures, considered to be the cutting edge in home construction when they were built.
There are also houses of historic significance built outside the “Colony” period, such as one on this year’s tour owned by Peggy and Tom O’Malley at 6650 Portola Road. That home features iron work done by the same man who created decorative iron work for Hearst Castle. Both were built at about the same time.
Two homes owned by Peter Okas and Kindra Cooper-Okas are pristine examples of the Colony homes period. Those homes are located at 5763 Rosario and 5315 Olmeda avenues. The Olmeda house was built by E.C. Seares, treasurer of Lewis’ Colony Holding Corp.
And almost next door is a home built by another of the corporation’s officers, R.P. O’Connor, at 5825 Ridgeway Court. This house is going through restoration and should serve as an inspiration to those who own older homes and are working to make them new again.
Another home with early Colony roots is located at 5466 Regio Place, on the north end of El Camino Real. It was saved from destruction by its former owner, developer Kelly Gearhart, moved to the front of the housing development and restored by General Pacific Properties, which now has it listed for sale.
The final home on the tour is the 1919 bungalow that serves as home to the Historical Society Museum. You’ll find it next to the parking lot across the street from the City Administration Building.
Just drive down East Mall off El Camino Real and when you get to the construction fence, turn into the lot. There will be refreshments for the public and homeowners following the tour at 4 p.m. The museum will be open starting at 1 p.m.
Tickets are available from the Atascadero Chamber of Commerce during the business day, the Historical Society Museum on Wednesday or Saturday afternoon, or at the individual homes on the day of the tour.
Lon Allan has lived in Atascadero for nearly five decades. His column appears here every week. He can be reached at 466-8529 or email@example.com.