About the Colony

Why Atascadero’s founder wanted to drop ‘Colony’ from name

Atascadero’s City Administration Building, circa 1920.
Atascadero’s City Administration Building, circa 1920.

In last week’s column about how names of local things sometimes change, I mentioned that even E.G. Lewis tried to get rid of the name “Colony,” even though he created the Colony Holding Corp. in the first place.

Lewis purchased the 23,000-acre cattle ranch in 1913 and in his very first advertising Bulletin No. 1 gave a report on “The California Colony of the American Woman’s Republic.”

He carried the name in later editions of his sales brochures, with the letters “CHC” (Colony Holding Corp.) embossed in gold ink on the covers.

Since last week’s column, a number of people have asked me why Lewis then wanted to drop the name. I found a newspaper article penned by Lewis in June 1921 in which he reported that as soon as the Superior Court approved the petition he filed for changing the name, “Colony Holding Corp. will no longer exist.”

“In its place will be Atascadero Estates,” Lewis wrote.

I found the court ruling on the matter.

Lewis said the name “Colony” had been “much misunderstood.”

“Many have assumed that it is some sort of religious, socialist or cooperative colony when in fact it is entirely free from any such restrictions or theories,” Lewis wrote in a column that appeared on the front page of the Atascadero News.

He advertised in his publications, which were mailed to cities all over the nation, that he was looking for a new name.

In fact, the winning name would result in a $5 reward for the author. Names came from throughout the nation. Some of the suggestions included “Atascadero Paradise Corp.,” “Atascadero Eden Corp.,” “Atascadero Golden Rule Corp.,” “Atascadero Commonwealth Estates,” “Atascadero Universal Corp.” and even “Atascadero Equitable Corp.”

In part, Lewis said of his development, “Ideals of Atascadero are high, among them being home ownership for everybody, ideal home life, high community spirit, tolerance of all that is good and intolerance of bad.”

Unfortunately, at the same time he was explaining the benefits of his model city, residency here was “limited to the caucasian race.”

Unfortunately in the 1920s, that was the case in many cities in California.

Lewis was the only one to testify during the Superior Court hearing in San Luis Obispo. The court ordered the name change to Atascadero Estates Inc. in August 1921.

But the name obviously didn’t stick for Atascadero.

However, Lewis is credited with establishing another California city — Palos Verdes Estates.

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 leallan@tcsn.net.

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