About the Colony

Landmark soon will be on the mend

As you read this column today, wire fencing is already being put in place around Atascadero’s City Administration Building. In fact, it might already be in place, because it was being off-loaded Friday.

The fencing will close off a portion of East Mall to through traffic (such as to the junior high school) and consume most of the city’s parking lot next door to the large building and the Atascadero Historical Society’s 1919 house. The bus stop will be moved.

It is an inconvenience that many of us are glad to encounter because it means one of Atascadero’s historic gems is on the mend.

The fencing will remain in place for the next three years as repairs are made to the historic, four-story building that has served as the centerpiece of this community since it was completed in 1918. The building took four years to complete. Mabel Gertrude Lewis was on hand in June 1914 to set the cornerstone on the first of four buildings in the Colony’s civic center. Although it was started first, it was the last building to be completed.

It is a good feeling knowing that the structure is on its way to new life. In what is almost a reflection of today’s difficult times for everyone, the concrete and steel building has been sitting broken, deserted and slowly deteriorating. Maybe its repairs will parallel improvements in our own lives over the next 36 months. It is anticipated that the building will be finished in time for the community’s 100th anniversary in 2013.

This week marks the first visible sign that work is actually under way on repairs to damage that happened almost seven years ago as the result of the San Simeon Earthquake. We won’t see a lot of the repair work because it will be going on inside the building.

As the Highway 101/41 interchange nears completion, the cyclone fencing is coming down there. Rite Aid opened in July and that wire fencing was hauled away. If there’s anything good about temporary construction fencing, it signals that improvements aren’t too far behind.

As the top dome at the Administration Building is removed brick by brick and tile by tile, we can all be sidewalk superintendents on efforts to make structural repairs to the very top and cosmetic repairs to the rest of the building. The rooftop penthouse built by Frank Moran will be gone for good. It was added to the building in 1928 when he bought the Administration Building, Printery and William H. Lewis Memorial Hospital to be used for a satellite campus for his junior college. Moran is probably the one who built the kitchen, too.

This is a good week for Atascadero.