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History of the Historic City Hall

Atascadero City Hall

Building Quotations:

High over each of the four entrances to the Administration Building is a quotation chosen by E.G. Lewis to forever be engraved on to this building. The four quotations are:

(Facing highway) "The most valuable of all arts will be that of deriving a comfortable subsistence from the smallest area of soil." - Abraham Lincoln

(Facing creek) "For lasting happiness, we turn our eyes to one alone, and she surrounds you now. Mother Nature." George Sterling*

(Facing Printery) "Let us keep our faces to the sunshine and we will not see the shadows." -E.G. Lewis

(Facing west) "Great Nature, refuge of the weary heart and only balm of breasts that have been bruised." George Sterling*

* taken from Sterling’s 1907 play ‘The Triumph of Bohemia’.

The Historic Administration Building

Initial Construction:

  • Architect: Walter D. Bliss (Bliss & Faville, San Francisco)
  • Contractor: F. 0. Engstrum Company
  • Cornerstone laid June 12, 1914
  • Occupied June 1918 (Move in started in May 1918)
  • Cost: approx. $200,000
  • 135 feet high, built of "Class A armored concrete" & Steel (fireproof), brick & terra cotta.
  • All bricks were made in Atascadero Brick Plant.(13 original colors of brick were used)
  • Housed the administration offices for the Colony
  • Designated as California State Historical Landmark 958 and listed on the National Registry of Historic Places.


E.G. Lewisplanned to use the Administration Building as the center of the community to contain the Chamber of Commerce, offices of the governor of the Colony and his assistants along with the commissioners, the general manager and real estate offices” From Atascadero, the vision of one – The work of many.By L.W. Allan

Colony Period:During the Colony period, the Administration building was used as a bank, headquarters of the water company, post office, real estate office and many other civic functions.

After E.G. was forced into involuntary bankruptcy, the new trustees sold the Administration as well as the Hospital and Printery for use as a school.During the next several years there were a variety of schools that used these facilities.

Moran School:Frank Moran bought the Administration Building in 1927 (as well as the Printery and Hospital) as an expansion for his junior college, originally based in Washington state.The Administration Building was used for the Junior College while the upper grades of the prep school were housed in the Printery.The schools were for men only, with an all-male teaching staff.

Miramonte School and Junior College: This school was incorporated in 1935.There were dorm rooms for 72 junior college students and 28 high school boys.This school failed and the buildings were repossessed in the early 1940’s.

Amerivet Technical Institute/Acheson Polytechnic College:Colonel Benjamin Aldrich bought the repossessed property and formed this school.The educational focus of this intuition was more in line with what we now call Technical Training, or more practical ‘hands on approach’ to learning how to do or fix things.In 1949, after failing to sell his holdings Colonel Aldrich reopened his school with a new name, Acheson Polytechnic Institute.Following the death of the Colonel, the Administration building was sold to the County of San Luis Obispo in 1951.The Printery was sold to the Atascadero Masonic Temple Association.The Hospital had been previously leased to the County and was in use as a hospital at this time.

The Veterans Memorial Building: After purchasing the building in 1951, the County rededicated the building for use as the Veterans Memorial building on November 11, 1952.The flagpole and sitting area to the left of the main entrance are now the ‘official’ Veterans Memorial.

City Administration Building:In the early 1980’s the county gave the Administration building back to the newly formed City of Atascadero to use as their City Administration Building.It was in use in that capacity until the Sam Simeon Earthquake of December 8, 2003.The Atascadero Historical Society used the lower rotunda as our museum and headquarters until that same event.

Other Uses:During all this time parts of the Administration Building have also been used as a bank, jail, courthouse as well as offices for various city, state and federal office holders representing the Atascadero area.


  • 15% new roof tiles, 85% existing
  • 80% new bricks, 20% existing(8 mock-up firings to match colors)
  • New bricks were made at a brick factory in Lake Elsinore, CA


  • There were 474 new terra cotta balusters installed around the upper level of the building

  • 248 micro-piles installed (a total length @16,000 feet (about 3 miles))
  • 1.2 million lbs of shotcrete installed
  • 80,000 lbs of rebar

Some other facts about the building:

  • The lower rotunda is 39 feet 6 inches from floor to top of ceiling
  • The upper rotunda is 42 feet 6 inches tall
  • The hanging light fixture in the lower rotunda is 11feet 6 inches in length.
  • The building, including the storage space in the basement is, 56,808 square feet.