Mabel Lewis: Founder’s Wife Was a Lover of Animals & Gardening

While many people know of E.G. Lewis, the founder of Atascadero, less is known about his wife, Mabel.

E.G. and Mabel G. Wellington married in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1890, according to Lon Allan’s book “Atascadero: The vision of one – The work of many.” They moved to Nashville, Tennessee soon after.

Together the Lewises owned and operated publications geared toward women.

“The Lewises were all for women to get the right to vote,” Atascadero Historical Society member
Kent Kenney said.


Lewis formed the American Women’s League, which included individual women’s organizations and others uniting together to get subscribers and renewing subscriptions for cooperating publishers of popular periodicals of that era, according to Allan’s book on Atascadero.  According to Mabel Lewis’ obituary published in the April 26, 1935, issue of the Atascadero News, she was president of the league around the time they moved to Atascadero in 1913.

“While not much is known about Mabel Lewis, what we do know is she formed the music club, she encouraged the fine arts,”
Allan said.

“She was a gardener, she loved animals,” Kenney said. “She laid the cornerstone of Atascadero’s City Administration Building.”

Allan and Kenney said that Mabel Lewis started Atascadero’s first zoo behind their home, which stood where Vons shopping
center is today.

“She had a petting zoo behind Headquarters,” Allan said, adding that she had deer, sheep, owls, raccoons and more. “Whatever the workers found as they were working in the Colony. They would find [the animals] and bring them to her to give them a home.”

According to Mabel’s obituary, she was born in Massachusetts in 1869. She also devoted her time to the artistic side of planning and developing the planned community of Atascadero in 1913. She laid out extensive private gardens in the new community. At the start of Atascadero, she was also the president of the American Woman’s Republic.

One of her crowning achievements, her obituary said, was her founding  the Atascadero Music Club, which had music lovers all over the county
in membership.

In “Order No. 10” by E.G. Lewis, Lewis writes about his agony at being separated from his wife. “The strain has been too much for her this past year. Now she is away. If there is a larger, more empty, vacant, miserable, howling wilderness of a vacuum void than this particular neighborhood, I hope something will fall into it and fill it quick. You can have the mile square of real estate, the bank, the house, automobiles, horses, cats, even the publishing company, if you will just give me back my everyday sweetheart, and no questions asked.”

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