About the Colony

Getting close to Atascadero's history

Lon Allan
Lon Allan

For the past 45 years, I’ve been fascinated with Atascadero’s history.

When I write about Atascadero’s history, as I often do, I’m constantly looking for information and experiences that get me closer.

I had such an experience this week when Gerry Sawyer walked into the lobby of the City Administration Building. A former resident of the community, she was visiting for only a few days and asked for a tour of the recently restored city hall.

I was delighted to be able to give her a tour.

What I found out about Gerry is that she is a graduate of Atascadero High School (Class of ’48). I found her picture in the school’s yearbook. She was on the high school newspaper staff. She was Gerry Smith.

As a class assignment, she interviewed Atascadero’s founder E.G. Lewis. Lewis was quite elderly at the time and had suffered a minor stroke, so Gerry remembers that his sister-in-law, Clara Remington, had to speak for him. What Gerry remembers to this day was not Lewis’ infirmities, but his very bright blue eyes. She is the second person I know who remembers Lewis’ blue eyes. He passed away at the age of 81, just two years after that interview.

Gerry also remembers the various schools that occupied the City Administration Building and the nearby Printery. First there was the Moran Junior College, and then Miramonte School and finally Colonel Benjamin Aldrich’s Amerivet Academy (1943 to 1951).

It was during the tenure of the Amerivet Academy (mid-1940s) that Gerry and some friends found an open door at the Printery and slipped inside and swam in the swimming pool. “The water was so warm,” she told me. The pool had been built inside the Printery to serve the Moran students.

She made me feel like I was there. I got “close” to a historic time.

The pool is still there, filled with sand and who knows what artifacts from inside the building.

Kelly Gearhart, who owns the Printery, promised me I could be on hand when they remove the debris from the pool. A lot has changed since that promise was made. I probably won’t live to see it, so it is up to you younger readers to dig through there for me.