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Let me just say up front that it wasn’t the almost-three dozen third-graders that had me wringing my hands in despair and getting more grey hair by the second. It wasn’t even the very awkward logistics of trying to navigate a hundred-year-old building with our little group of twelve – a half-dozen “walking” kids, five adults including moms, docents and me, and  a couple of occupied vehicles (a kid in a wheelchair and a fancy-dancy stroller with a teeny, tiny baby). Oh yeah. And a service dog.

It was the co-docent, Karen.  The one with the dog. She was a newly-trained docent and had never led a tour before so they placed her with Connie who has been docent-ing and leading city hall tours for, oh I forgot to ask her how long but she knew her stuff so it’s been awhile.

Karen was obviously agitated throughout most of our hour together. She was bugged that Connie didn’t go faster, that she talked too much. She seemed overwhelmed at the prospect of vehicles amongst us, which meant we had to split up into two sub-groups to take the little bitty elevator. She appeared agitated because she was sure there was information that the kids needed to have that they weren’t getting because Connie was answering one of their questions instead.

It was a bit of a weird other-worldly-feeling hour.

But it was also an amazing hour, filled with lots of information, tons of kids’ questions, Connie’s great answers, and some friendly third-graders and moms.

To Connie’s credit, she was graceful throughout and more or less ignored the sharp comments from Karen that we needed to move along or get the kids to another location because… the next group was coming, the door was closing, the way wasn’t clear; you name it, she had a biting and/or short comment for it. The two moms exchanged glances each time Karen got uptight but all in all, Connie did an amazing job of leading our little tour group on its way through four floors of civics, both current and historical.

The old building inspector and earthquake aficionado in me wanted to see the parts of the building that had been retrofitted after being damaged by the earthquake in 2003, and the old plans examiner in me wanted to see the “back office” of the Building Department where they approve plans and issue building permits. I was certainly not disappointed on either account. Our tour took us through the back hallways and upper floors of the City Hall building where current city functions take place, as well as allowed us to see the areas of the building that had been left open, displayed behind a pane of glass where construction had been done to repair the quake damage and retrofit it for safety in the event of the next earthquake.

If you’re anywhere near Atascadero, CA and have a few minutes (more like an hour or so), make sure you contact the Atascadero Historical Society and get that city hall tour; it’ll take you to places the general public isn’t allowed to go, you’ll get to see inside the top of the dome which is also the Council Chambers, and you’ll even get some inside info from your docent that you might not otherwise learn. All in all, well worth your time to see this amazing building. Enjoy the photos!

Historic Atascadero City Hall
Under the arch at the front door
Remnants of an earthquake
Arched window in the dome
Wood relief under the counters in City Hall
In the museum – articles from the Atascadero Inn
In the museum – cream pitcher and sugar bowl from the Atascadero Inn
Looking up inside the dome (the Council Chambers are above this dome)
The dome above the dome – looking up in the Council Chambers
Standing on top of the big dome – the floor of the Council Chambers
The little group of third-graders I toured with standing in front of the Council Chambers
The mayor’s gavel – well-used!
An interesting retrofit of a parapet wall; the engineer had a very sharp pencil, indeed 😀
Looking down from the top… my car is a long ways down!
View of the outside of the big dome as it was completed in 1914
The access door to the inside of the dome (used for maintenance, etc.)
Section of wall open behind glass, showing the retrofit construction
View of a lamp behind a glass door
Round window, hanging lamps, ping pong table
The dome as seen from the third floor
One of four outside fountains (no water due to long drought)
The whole gang of third-graders after our tour, getting ready to cross the street to the park, to let off some steam and get a snack 😀

As I said, it was an amazing hour… and one I’d repeat in a heartbeat. The kids were great, with lots of questions (and some answers, too 🙂 ) and Connie led a very informative tour, albeit with challenges 😀

Check out the links below.

Historic Atascadero City Hall: open Monday – Friday from 8:30 am – 5:00 pm
Atascadero Historical Society: for a tour of City Hall, email atascaderocolonymuseum@gmail.com or call (805) 466-8341
City of Atascadero

See all the photos from the tour here

Touring City Hall with 35 Third-Graders – or how to question your sanity in 60 minutes or less
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10 thoughts on “Touring City Hall with 35 Third-Graders – or how to question your sanity in 60 minutes or less

  • May 8, 2017 at 1:29 pm

    I admire that fact that you actually went with that group of 3rd graders and survived!!LOL. On the serious side, great pictures of the building and it’s surroundings!

    • May 8, 2017 at 1:32 pm

      Ha! Thanks! As I said, it wasn’t the third-graders that presented the challenge – they were awesome! More well-behaved than I expected after having been around an 8-year-old or two in the past few years that could have learned something about public behavior from this group. It was that danged co-docent! I mean, really….

      • May 8, 2017 at 1:44 pm

        Sounds as if the docent was a little OCD or something similar, thus the helper dog. Possibly the dog is to help her cope and calm down? Good thing you had Connie along also. I have always found that the kids aren’t the problems, it’s the adults/parents.

        • May 8, 2017 at 2:18 pm

          Hi Donna! Connie was terrific and I appreciated her ability to lead the tour under some challenging circumstances. It was a great tour and one I’d certainly do again with her as the docent.

  • May 8, 2017 at 3:33 pm

    Thanks for the photo tour, great pictures. Yes, kids can be fun!

    • May 11, 2017 at 9:18 am

      Sometimes I think I need grandkids or something, Lorna… I never got to be an aunt either. I know the Universe knows what it’s doing but I mean, come on! Hehehe…

      • May 11, 2017 at 9:54 am

        I understand. I am sure there are plenty of volunteer opportunities to work with kids. Our youngest grandson is 11, but we will soon have a new one! The only problem is they live in New York City.

        • May 11, 2017 at 10:42 am

          At least you have them! Volunteering with kids isn’t the same as having your own whatevers, though… nothing quite like family, is there? I’m sure the Universe knows what it’s doing 😀

  • May 8, 2017 at 4:07 pm

    That was very interesting! Your pictures were beautiful, what an amazing building. I think that tour would of been great to go on, children and all!!
    Sounds like your guide was well versed, and very patient!!
    Great blog, thank you!!!

    • May 11, 2017 at 9:20 am

      The tour was great, Debbie! If you ever stop in Atascadero, I encourage you to call the Historical Society and get a tour, too. Very interesting building and history but the retrofit after the earthquake was amazingly done. You won’t regret it!

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