Mancos, a small town in the southwestern corner of Colorado, is the gateway to Mesa Verde and the home of one of Colorado’s oldest newspapers, The Mancos Times, founded in 1893. In 1910, the newspaper enlarged to become The Mancos Times-Tribune and moved to a new fireproof concrete home on Grand Avenue, where it served as an office and printing shop until the 1970s. Closed and forgotten for almost 50 years, the Mancos building was recently restored through an unusual partnership led by Weitzman professors Frank Matero and Matt Neff with community leaders and a grant from the Colorado Historical Society beginning in 2013. Today its original rare American Cranston printing press is finally back in action along with smaller hand presses and a vast collection of original type, image blocks, and all the appurtenances of a traditional letterpress print shop. Resurrected as The Mancos Common Press, referencing its connection to Penn’s Common Press, it is now print art rather than newspapers that is being produced by artists coming from far and wide who want to experience the role of traditional processes in contemporary print culture as well as local community members curious about what letterpress and printing is all about.
Ten years later, The Mancos Common Press is a hub of activity with an artist-in-residence program; studio courses in relief printmaking; and the use of the Mancos Common Press as a community art center. As the town continues to promote itself as an arts community and tourist destination (especially given its proximity to Mesa Verde), this new enterprise has contributed to the local and regional development of arts education and has helped promote cultural tourism in town. Since the reopening of the Press, Mancos has seen several new preservation projects begin including the transformation of the old Columbine Bar next door into a gastropub, the restoration of the Mancos Opera House including its rare painted scenic curtain, and the renovation and adaptive reuse of two impressive 19th century mansions in town.
By focusing on the preservation of buildings as a catalyst for positive change, the town and the Press have now joined forces on perhaps one of the most significant new projects to rise on Grand Avenue in a century—The Mancos Commons— a 4,000 square foot, two-story mixed-use development including three single-bedroom affordable housing units, a large workshop space for the Press, and retail and office space designed by Constructive Form, out of Portland, Oregon.
Attainable housing for local residents and workforce is a top priority for Mancos. As the Common Press board contemplated expansion, it was clear that the project could accommodate the town’s need for affordable housing by including well-designed three single-bedroom units. True to its mission, the project will incorporate energy-efficient building attributes, sustainable landscaping, rainwater management, and water efficiency. The project is also intended to promote increased indoor environmental quality with design features such as natural daylighting and all electric systems with rooftop solar. These features are meant to promote tenant health and quality of life. The new space will also accommodate much needed space for Press programming and community engagement. These spaces are meant for artists, community gatherings, and a regional hub for creatives in the print/graphic arts sector. The vision is to be a true reflection of the community and the world.
For more information and details on how you can help The Mancos Commons project see: