ATASCADERO — After a string of incidents involving vagrants and vandals in the area, the Atascadero Historical Society was forced to close the doors of the Colony House Museum on Lewis Avenue this past October, citing ongoing threats to the safety of its docents, but the museum will be reopening soon, according to historical society president Jim Wilkins. 

Wilkins told the Atascadero News that the historical society recently installed security cameras at the location Friday along with security lights that will be on from dusk ‘til dawn. 

“And the cameras connect to our cell phones so we’ll be able to monitor it 24-7,” Wilkins said. 

Wilkins said that the museum could reopen as soon as Feb. 7 to coincide with the City’s upcoming Art, Wine & Brew tour, which would also be almost 11 years to the day from when the museum first opened its doors on Valentine’s Day 2009, he added. 

The historical society also recently announced another new project that will see a series of decorative gates installed on paths around the Colony House Museum and at the site of the still-under-construction Colony Heritage Center nearby in memory of Wilkins’ mother and life-long Atascadero resident Bonnie Lyn Wilkins, who passed away in July at the age of 83. 

Bonnie Wilkins served as Atascadero’s first “First Lady” when her husband Bob Wilkins was elected as the City’s first mayor in 1979 Bob and Bonnie were honored as the Colony Days King and Queen in 2003. She was also a charter member of Quota Club International of Atascadero and was very active in the organization.

There will be two gates installed at the Colony House Museum and four installed at the Colony Heritage Center. Designed by local artist Mark Greenaway, the gates will have a naturalistic look, incorporating flowers and vines and plenty of color, Wilkins said. The gates will be made from the deodar cedar trees that were removed from around Atascadero City Hall prior to its reconstruction. The historical society had the trees turned into lumber and has been saving the wood for these past few years, saving it for something special. 

Wilkins said that construction on the gates probably won’t begin for another eight weeks or so because historical society members are currently busy with a few other projects at the Colony Heritage Center including the installation of a sheer panel at the Archival House, preparations for a foundation slab at the Boy Scout Cabin and preparations for the installation of electricity at the site. 

Wilkins said that he’s not sure how much money will need to be raised for the memory walk project, but those interested in supporting it will be able to buy brick pavers engraved with the name of a loved one that will be installed along the path. He said that supporters have already donated $2-3K toward the project. 

“People are excited about it,” he said. “It’s going to be very artistic.” 

Getting through this together, Atascadero