The foundation created to reclaim, rehabilitate and repurpose the oldest building in our city’s original Civic Center, the Atascadero Printery, continues to make progress on the historic project. Karen McNamara, Atascadero Printery Foundation President, founded the organization to honor her late husband who had worked on plans to restore the building. McNamara’s work to return the Printery to its former glory encapsulates an Atascadero motto, “Vision of one — work of many.”

Last year, the APF took possession of the building’s deed and partnered with the Atascadero Performing Arts Center Committee. The goal of the two organizations is not simply to restore the dilapidated structure but to establish it as a community performing arts center.

“If you look at the studies, it’s incredible what a performing arts studio does for a community as far as reducing drug use among the kids,” McNamara said.

A 2012 report by the California Cultural and Historical Endowment researched 22 separate impact studies to assess the benefits of historic restoration. The report states that studies are “overwhelmingly consistent regarding the beneficial impacts to a community’s economy from rehabilitation activities” and the “most common and most significant benefits involved job creation, property value stabilization, growth and cultural tourism.”

“We’re on our way to doing bigger and better things,” McNamara said.

For the past three and a half years, the Atascadero Printery Foundation has attained money through the community’s generosity. This type of ‘bake sale’ fundraising encourages local awareness and personal investment in the project through the pride in contributing to a worthy cause. One way the APF offered the public to participate is the Founder’s Club which honors the first 100 people to donate $1,000 or more to the project. Approximately 60 people currently claim the Founder title.

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McNamara said that the nonprofit is launching a capital campaign with the goal of reaching $1 million. In the past two years, the APF raised $150,000, a remarkable achievement for a fledgling organization and a small group of very dedicated people. The amount does not include the many hours donated to the cause. Volunteer hours for APF contain real sweat in their sweat equity by putting their time to not only raise money for the Printery but also cleaning the building and protecting it from further harm.

The nonprofit is exploring matching funds grants that help capitalize on those volunteer hours. In some instances, grants will award a monetary value to in-kind services and APF requests volunteers to log their hours with this in mind. For instance, McNamara mentioned a lady who made a quilt to be offered in a silent auction, her hours spent in creation also can go toward the matching monetary value from a grant.

The foundation continues to work with the City, meeting every other month. With its capital campaign, the APF plans to expand its focus of fundraising to include state and federal grants. McNamara said that City Manager Rachelle Rickard suggested various state agencies to contact in order to garner more funds for the project.

Another boon for the APF is the possibility of Atascadero entering into the Certified Local Government Program. The jointly administered program of the National Park Service and the State Historic Preservation Offices gives communities the opportunity to receive federal funds for the preservation of historical sites as well as a dedicated federal staff that offers training, general preservation aide and other benefits.

Local communities work through a certification process to become recognized as a Certified Local Government. Once certified they become an active partner in the Federal Historic Preservation Program. McNamara pointed out that the Printery falls under federal protection being listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Therefore, the building’s federal status offers two choices to the community, either make it into something useful for the public or let it remain a blight on the City — tearing it down is not an option.

All things being equal, if the foundation’s estimation of $8 million to rehabilitate the building were met tomorrow, McNamara said that the Printery could be available for public use in a little as one year’s time. She said that a recent evaluation by a brick mason working for the APF gave promising results. McNamara stated that the mason was amazed at how well the structure had endured the test of time and attested to the fact the repairing the building was not what he would call a “big job.”

“He was absolutely in awe at the condition of the building and the brick,” McNamara said. Representing APF, McNamara participated in Dancing with Our Stars, a fundraiser established by the Friends of Atascadero Library. APF placed third in the fundraiser effort hauling in approximately $25,000 for their mission. The DWOS was first created to garner funds to in order to provide the City with a larger public library. With its goal completed, DWOS continues on by providing local nonprofits the change to raise awareness and funds for their causes as well as show off their new dance moves.

Over the years, valuable things have gone missing from the building. One such item is part of a mural that greeted visitors in the main entrance. The painting holds significance for the City and the building. McNamara asks for the one of a kind artwork to please be returned.

For more information about the organization, visit atascaderoprintery.org

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