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!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or call (805) 466-8341
City of Atascadero