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Calling all runners: Tent City Marathon raising money to save Atascadero Printery

Take a look inside the historic Atascadero Printery building

Karen McNamara, president of the Atascadero Printery Foundation, talks about the Printery building, which is the first building in Atascadero; its history; and the hopes to restore the landmark. The nonprofit group is working to purchase the histo
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Karen McNamara, president of the Atascadero Printery Foundation, talks about the Printery building, which is the first building in Atascadero; its history; and the hopes to restore the landmark. The nonprofit group is working to purchase the histo

The Atascadero nonprofit restoring the historic Printery building wants the local running community to help it raise funds to continue its work.

The city will host the first Tent City Marathon on March 25 to raise funds for the Atascadero Printery Foundation’s efforts to rehabilitate the dilapidated building, which the nonprofit bought in a county tax auction last year.

“It’s the first kind of really big race for North County,” said Victoria Hartt of Vitality Fitness Delivered, a foundation board member who’s organizing the event.

Participants can run one of four different races: a marathon, a half-marathon, a 10K and a 5K, all of which will start in front of the Printery building on Olmeda Street. Racers will run an out-and-back course that leads to Templeton and finishes in front of Atascadero City Hall, where they’ll be treated to either a cupcake or a beer.

There’s even a “none-run,” for participants who want to help with fundraising efforts and get a T-shirt, but don’t want to run in any of the races. After the none-run starting gun goes off, participants will get their treats and relax near the start/finish line.

Hartt said the start and finish line locations are symbolic. Runners start in front of a yet-to-be-restored building and finish in front of City Hall, which underwent extensive renovations after the 2003 San Simeon Earthquake.

“We’re finishing at a building that’s now complete and beautiful and this jewel of our town,” she said.

Printery building renovations

The Printery building is a registered historic landmark built in 1915 by E.G. Lewis, founder of the Colony of Atascadero. Over the years, the Printery has fallen into disrepair, especially after it was also damaged in the 2003 earthquake.

Kelly Gearhart — a former developer who was convicted of fraud in 2015 after filing for bankruptcy in 2009 — last owned the building until the Printery Foundation paid $300,100 for the property at a county tax auction in May. Since then, the nonprofit has begun the process of fixing up the structure, which must be revamped according to certain historic standards.

Karen McNamara, president of the Printery Foundation, said the nonprofit is preparing to submit documents and plans to the California Office of Historic Preservation.

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The Atascadero Printery Foundation is hosting the Tent City Marathon to raise money to fix up the historic building, seen here in September. Joe Johnston jjohnston@thetribunenews.com



The organization is almost finished boarding up windows and installing clear panes to prevent vandalism, she said. A security system with cameras also helps deter trespassers.

The foundation’s next steps will involve preliminary earthquake retrofitting and demolishing a wood and stucco portion of the building that was added on in the 1970s, McNamara said. The Tent City race will provide funds for all the organization’s efforts.

Hartt and McNamara are hoping for 1,000 racers — about 500 participants have already signed up for the event.

“(Races) are good fundraisers,” McNamara said. “And it’s good to gather the community together.”

Lindsey Holden: 805-781-7939, @lindseymholden

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