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Mancos Common Press hosts groundbreaking ceremony for extension of building

The groundbreaking for Mancos Common Press’s new building was held on Friday, June 2. (Bailey Duran/Special to the Journal)
The press was restored in 2019 and is in the heart of downtown Mancos

On Friday at 1 p.m., The Mancos Common Press held a groundbreaking ceremony for the extension of its press building.

More than 30 members of the community attended the event, excitedly talking and taking pictures of the empty lot that will soon hold the new building.

When the groundbreaking ceremony started, Tami Graham, board president of the Mancos Common Press, addressed those in attendance, tearfully stating that she couldn’t believe they were finally breaking ground, saying they had been hoping to begin the expansion for a few years.

Graham thanked members of the board for their support, and the community that has contributed more than $90,000 to the project.

Press board president Tami Graham addressed those in attendance before the groundbreaking of the Mancos Common Press building, 135 Grand Ave. (Bailey Duran/Special to the Journal)

Along with funds raised by the community, the press also received grants from the Colorado Housing and Finance Authority and the Division of Housing.

The press will hold attainable housing on its second floor, which helped it qualify for the Division of Housing’s grant. The grant contributed over $800,000 to the project.

They also received a $1.3 million grant from the Colorado Creative Industries and grants from the Gates Family Foundation, Boettcher Foundation and Ballantine Family Fund.

The Ballantine Family Fund committed to donate to the project in honor of former board treasurer Betsy Harrison, who died April 9, 2023.

Mike Pfotenhauer and Diane Wren, the founders of Osprey Packs and now with the Virga Foundation, also donated to the new building.

“This is obviously a very community-oriented project,” Graham said.

Graham added that they are $112,000 from their $2.6 million goal, and that they decided to break ground anyway in faith that they will receive the rest of the money needed.

“Obviously we've already broken ground and we're kind of laughing about that right now. But we’re actually calling it ground blessing instead of groundbreaking,” Graham said. “It's really close to the fundraising goal for this project.”

Those who wish to donate to the project can go to the Mancos Commons website to donate.

The finished building will two stories and 3,600 square feet. The bottom half of the building will be an extension of the press building.

“Level one will be a very large, expanded workshop space for the press in our activities, community accessible workshop space, and then we'll have a small retail space that will be leasing out as well,” Graham said. “On the second floor, are three single-bedroom housing units that we're intending for workforce housing.”

She noted that once the building process is underway, they will be able to provide more information on the housing and how people can apply to live in a unit above the press.

“Our vision is that this project will inspire other multi-use development that may be in the hole right down here, as other places in the community because we have an amazing, vibrant community. These kinds of projects. So we make our downtown more vibrant for people living, working, playing and hanging out,” Graham added.

Before the official groundbreaking, Jim Law, vice-president of the press board, thanked Graham and Betsy Harrison for their hard work in getting the project up and running.

“None of this would have really occurred if it had not been for Betsy Harrison and Tami, who together, were the driving force to make this happen. It took an incredible amount of energy, persistence and grace. And I can't thank them enough. And so for me, this is a vision that both of these ladies have put on the press to make the press something that's much bigger than itself,” he said.

The event ended with the members of the press board, Mancos Mayor Queenie Barz and others broke ground to the cheers of community members in attendance.

The Mancos Common Press is a historic, restored letterpress design and print studio in the heart of Mancos.

Mancos Common Press’s current building. (Bailey Duran/Special to the Journal)

It once belonged to the Mancos Times, but closed its doors in the 1970s. It sat abandoned until 2013, when it was discovered that the print and all the original printing material that had been installed in 1911 was still inside the building and in salvageable condition.

In 2014, the Mancos Common Press was officially organized in 2014, and the restoration was guided by the University of Pennsylvania School of Design. The work was completed in 2019.

According to the press website, the goals of the team were twofold. One, to preserve and restore the original building, and two, to create a graphic art studio “with an emphasis on the historic place of letterpress and newspapers in the Old West.”

The press is operated by an all-volunteer board and hosts tours, workshops, events, business collaborations, artist collaborations and more.

“We are most committed to preserving and showcasing the craft of traditional letterpress printing,” their website states.

To learn more about the press or to donate, visit the press’s website https://mancoscommonpress.org/.