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Atascadero Printery being turned into community center

The Atascadero Printery Foundation is raising money to turn the historic printery into a center to serve teens andthe Atascadero community. Image contributed

The Atascadero Printery, on the corner of Olmeda Street and W. Mall near City Hall, is one of the oldest buildings in Atascadero, but over the years it has fallen into disrepair. However, the Atascadero Printery Foundation, led by its president Karen McNamara, bought the historic building in 2017 and has begun efforts to turn it into a community center, which will include activities for high school students.

When asked about the importance of the building, McNamara said, “It was finished in 1915, and it became the lifeblood of Atascadero, as there were about 125 jobs here. As people were moving to Atascadero and waiting in tents for their houses to be built, a lot of them worked here.” She went on to explain that the Atascadero News was created there, along with the Illustrated Review, which was, at the time, called Women’s Republic, and played a role in the fight for women’s right to vote.

Clearly, the Atascadero Printery is significant to the history of Atascadero, but why should it matter to students? McNamara said, “As soon as we can get this finished, we will fill it with every community program we possibly can. Students will get to come to concerts, melodrama, and all kinds of fun stuff here. It’ll have a 275 seat performing arts center with a full stage. They used to, when it was a community center, have something called Friday Night Live, and they had a Battle of the Bands every so often. We will have a full outdoor stage. After school, there’ll be a lot of youth arts classes here. Basically, we’re just going to fill it with every use we possibly can. It’s not for us. It is for the community.”

McNamara’s project is fairly ambitious. When asked how long it could take to complete the new community center and restore the building, she said, “It all depends on funding. We could finish it in two years if we had $8,500,000. I know that’s a big amount, but we know there are grants and there are trusts out there and there are people who care about kids.”

Overall, the Atascadero Printery Foundation has big plans for the historical building. If all goes according to plan, the Atascadero Printery should be a wonderful community center aimed at providing services and entertainment that will directly affect Atascadero High School students.

To donate to the cause or volunteer to help, citizens can contact the Atascadero Printery Foundation at (805) 466-1961 or email them at Their website provides additional information and photographs related to the progress of the project as well.

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