The Mancos Common Press restoration is nearly complete, and its printing presses are readying their wheels for more regular use.
The Common Press is a nonprofit dedicated to the restoration of the Mancos Times-Tribune building along Grand Avenue and the printing press-related artifacts within.
Once complete, the site will be used as a facility for students and graphic artists.
The Mancos Times was founded in 1893 as the town’s first newspaper, expanding in 1906 to become the Mancos Times-Tribune. Four years later, the newspaper office moved to its current spot on Grand Avenue – which also housed a print shop – until the 1970s, when the newspaper moved to digital production.
It remains well-preserved from its original days, though.
“Today that building remains completely intact with its glass and ornamental pressed metal façade and its original interior and contents including a rare Cranston printing press, 19th century typesetter’s benches, boxes of metal type and image blocks and a complete archive of original newspapers from 1910-2010,” the Common Press website states.
Decades later, historic preservation students and faculty from the University of Pennsylvania were doing preservation work outside Mancos, when they came across the Mancos Times-Tribune building. Upon finding its preserved interior, the group prepared a historic structures assessment and conservation analysis of the interior and exterior.
Their findings inspired a group of locals to form the Mancos Common Press in 2013. It operates under the fiscal sponsorship of Mancos Valley Resources.
The Ballantine family, which owns The Journal and The Durango Herald, donated the building to the organization in 2014, and the group has received funds for the restorations since then – $89,000 from the Colorado State Historical Society, along with $11,000 from the Ballantine Family for a mural on the side of the building.
Some of the restorations include replacing missing windows and a door, repairing the ornamental ceiling and installing heating systems.
At an open house April 20, visitors passed through the old newspaper office to view the restorations and artifacts. Artist Brad Goodell demonstrated printing on the Platen press, a smaller model than the 8-foot-tall Cranston press used to print newspapers.
The Cranston press is primarily for historical purposes, Goodell said, as the large size makes it somewhat dangerous to operate. However, the Platen press, along with another smaller press used to proof news pages, will be in more regular use.
According to board member Betsy Harrison, the Common Press restoration is nearly finished. Wallpaper and work on the façade are scheduled for early June, she said.