The printery is hosting a free open house June 11-12
ATASCADERO — The Atascadero Printery Foundation will host a free Open House event at the Printery site, 6351 Olmeda Avenue, on June 11 and 12 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Visitors will see the architecture and adornments of the Historical Women’s Press Building, the first completed in Atascadero. Features of the event include historic printing equipment and displays of many of the publications produced there over the nearly 50 years it was in operation, an in-depth virtual tour showing the progress of the restoration, and detailed drawings and renderings of the future as an amazing asset to the community.
A kick-off all-ages dance will be held Friday evening, June 10. The Foundation will transform the Printery site into a 1915 garden party setting under the stars from 6 to 9 p.m. A variety of food, barbecue and drinks will be offered for sale throughout the three-day event.
The open house is free, and dance tickets are $10 at AtascaderoPrintery.org. Funds raised will help the Atascadero Printery Foundation move forward to repurpose the facility as a community arts education and events center.
The Printery Foundation is looking forward to being part of the California Preservation Foundation Doors Open event featuring 70 valuable historic sites throughout California.
The Women’s Press building was completed in 1915. It was home to the Woman’s Publishing Company, started by E. G and Mabel Lewis, who became nationally known in the women’s suffrage movement.
The Lewises started the American Woman’s League, which later changed to the American Women’s Republic, along with People’s University in University City, Missouri.
They then found a site in a 13,000-acre rancho in Atascadero. Walter Bliss was hired to design the community based on the Garden City movement. The first civic structure to be completed was a printery — the Women’s Press Building.
It became the largest rotogravure press facility west of the Mississippi River, producing publications of the Illustrated Review, the Atascadero News, and color sections of the San Francisco Chronicle, Los Angeles Times, and others. The publishing plant was constructed of brick with fine adornments on the exterior, arched front entry, and the interior lobby. Artist and Chicago Art Institute instructor Ralph Holmes painted murals in the main entrance and stairway.
The structure now stands at 19,000 square feet. It was recently purchased by the Printery Foundation, a nonprofit organization started solely to save the structure and repurpose it into an arts and education center.