Last week I saw a headline saying that the final piece of the North County Christian Thrift Store had been torn down.
I had no doubt the small structure in downtown Atascadero would eventually be knocked down after the devastating fire that destroyed the rest of the building in almost four years ago. But the building had more of a legacy than being the home to the local Christian school’s thrift store operation.
The building that was knocked down last week was constructed in 1925 in what became known as the Golden Way Block.
William E. Kullgren’s first buildings there pre-date the Carlton Hotel by almost five years. The site was known as the Golden Way Auto Camp, which consisted of tiny bungalows for tourists on the back side and a gas with a large garage and storage building on the California State Highway side (El Camino Real). That explains why the building was set so far back from the roadway and why new sidewalks were added in the 1990s to bring them in alignment with the rest of the downtown.
Kullgren eventually added two more buildings, providing retail spaces on the bottom floors and a hotel on the top called Hotel Atascadero. There were six store fronts and 40 hotel rooms. In fact,Joe and Olga Grisanti first opened their hardware store in the Golden Way Block in 1947 with the motto: “If you don’t see it, ask for it, if we don’t have it, we will get it.”
In 1965, a fire destroyed the Atascadero Hotel building. It is on that site that the Jack in the Box restaurant and Atascadero Pharmacy (currently Founder’s Bank) were built in the 1980s.
The garage served as a Chevrolet dealership for a few years. When North County Christian School was founded in the 1970s, the old garage-turned-thrift store became a major source of financial support for the school.
For a brief time, Don Stinchfield owned or managed the little gas station in front. In the 1960s, the gas station office was the headquarters for the county Sheriff’s Office. When I joined the newspaper in 1972, the office was under the command of Izzy Flores.
The gas station survived the 2009 fire, but the front façade where the pumps were located was eventually torn down.
So when I saw that the little building was being razed last week I was sad that another piece of Atascadero history is gone.
Lon Allan's column is special to The Tribune. He has lived in Atascadero for nearly five decades and his column appears here every week. Reach Allan at 466-8529 or firstname.lastname@example.org.