Karen McNamara has not lived in Atascadero all her life but she loves Atascadero as though she had. She moved here with her late husband, Mike McNamara, who died in
June 2015. Since moving to Atascadero, she started the Printery Foundation with Nic Mattson, who had started discussing the fate of the historic building with Mike, but Mike died before anything could be done.
“He didn’t like to complain,” Karen said. “If he didn’t like something, he did something about it. He was just a really good man… Mike and Nick both grew up here, it’s a building they both
The foundation was officially formed in October 2015. Since that time, it has gained control of the building and raised enough money to buy it from the county when it went to auction.
The Atascadero Printery Building has been red-tagged and boarded up since the San Simeon Earthquake hit the county in 2003. It had remained relatively untouched since leaving most of the windows broken and the building quickly deteriorating, according to McNamara, president of the Printery Foundation.
The foundation’s mission is to reclaim, rehabilitate and repurpose the Printery building. It’s estimated that the foundation will need $8.5 million to make the building fit for the public. The foundation has currently raised $140,000 of that amount. McNamara speculates that the majority of the funds will come from grants and possibly very large donors. Of the total, $2.5 million will be used to retrofit the building. That amount, she said, is the committee’s first goal now that the foundation has ownership of the building.
Anyone who wants to get involved in any way can contact Karen at 805-459-5113 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Even before she undertook saving the Printery, Karen joined the Optimist Club about six years ago, which led her to join the Colony Days Committee on which she is serving her second of two termsas chair.
“Community rabble-rouser should be my title,” McNamara said, adding that when her family attended the parade their first year back in Atascadero she felt that she should get involved in the event. “I don’t believe in just griping about stuff but getting involved.”
She started out working with vendors and figuring out logistics and then served as secretary before moving up to chairperson.
“I’ll stay on the committee, but probably won’t have a lot of responsibilities because I have a lot going on with the Printery,” she said.
With progress heating up with the Printery, McNamara said she’s often in meetings related to the building.
In addition to her community involvement, she is also a real estate agent and owns Hope Chest Emporium, which is located next to Bru Coffeehouse at 5800 El Camino Real. The home goods store has a unique blend of locally-made, restored or repurposed furniture, decor, candles, garden items and more. The store features goods from a variety of sellers.
“I call it my lemonade stand,” McNamara said. “Life handed me lemons and I made a lemonade stand. I miss Mike terribly but I’m not going to dwell on it. I’m going to be a help in the community. That’s the way I’m going to honor him.”
McNamara has four children: Jaime, 37; April, 36; Ryan, 23, and Kody, 20. All of her children except Jaime are local residents.