About the Colony

In Atascadero, a new bridge opens and the Printery reveals a hidden piece of history

Atascadero’s new pedestrian bridge will link Colony Square and Sunken Gardens.
Atascadero’s new pedestrian bridge will link Colony Square and Sunken Gardens. jjohnston@thetribunenews.com

I have a habit of checking out building projects within the city. I did it for more than 30 years as a journalist. There was always a possible news story to be found at any given project or at a minimum, a photo op.

Probably the most compelling reason is that I love to watch construction underway. I did it as a 10-year-old watching houses being built in my neighborhood. I had many houses I’d check on every day.

When I get home from a trip, I drive by local project sites to see what they got done while I was gone. That was the case Saturday morning when I returned home after being out of town for four days.

I discovered the new pedestrian bridge connecting the Sunken Gardens with the Colony Square commercial center had been set in place. More concrete parking lot borders were just waiting for the final paving (hopefully before Colony Days, which is a month away). Curbs for walking paths can’t be far behind.

Just across the freeway, in front of Atascadero’s first community building (today home to ABC Church), new curbs, gutters and sidewalks are being poured from close to the pedestrian tunnel under Highway 101 to the ECHO complex.

A very large tree has been blocking safe walking of that area for many, many years. The tree was removed a month ago, and I was told that a giant machine is due on the job site to grind away what is left of the stump.

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A new sidewalk has been poured along Atascadero Avenue near the ECHO shelter. Joe Johnston jjohnston@thetribunenews.com

This whole area will be safer for schoolchildren and those moms pushing baby strollers from the homeless shelter.

What really lifted my spirits, however, is over at the Printery.

A group of Printery Foundation folks removed the old blue sign over the front entrance that read “Masonic Temple.” The sign had been there since the Masons bought the building in 1952 from Col. Benjamin Aldrich’s widow, Dorothy.

Beneath that sign they found the words “Press Building” cast into the decorative plaster over the door. These same volunteers have cut the weeds and made numerous improvements that are bringing the building back to public service or at a minimum, preventing further damage from rain, intruders and the pigeons.

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The removal of an old sign at Atascadero’s Printery revealed the engraving “Press Building” underneath. Joe Johnston jjohnston@thetribunenews.com

I tried to get the city to chisel out the putty covering letters engraved over the entrance to City Hall on the south side. Nobody seemed to care. That is where the First National Bank of Atascadero was born. Inside are two large walk-in vaults. If you look closely, you can see the letters “BANK” above the door.

On Sunday I walked past a group of adults and children playing miniature golf at a new facility up near the Police Station.

I’m feeling good about Atascadero right now.

Lon Allan’s column is special to The Tribune. He has lived in Atascadero for five decades and his column appears here every other week. Reach Allan at 466-8529 or lonallan39@gmail.com.

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