Letterpress museum taking shape in old Englewood Depot

Posted 11/7/13

“Celebrate the Englewood Depot,” says a poster designed by Tom Parson, who has bought the old Englewood Santa Fe Depot from the city. The depot …

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Letterpress museum taking shape in old Englewood Depot


“Celebrate the Englewood Depot,” says a poster designed by Tom Parson, who has bought the old Englewood Santa Fe Depot from the city.

The depot now sits empty on Dartmouth Avenue. Parson's plan is to keep the historic facade intact, as a designated historic landmark, and create a “living museum” dedicated to letterpress typography, art and poetry, with a working print shop, which will also be a teaching facility and hopefully, a community meeting place.

The poster uses 11 different typestyles from Parson's extensive collection: Egyptian Clarendon Ornamented, Samoa, Gothic Concave Tuscan Condensed, Racine, Skeleton Antique, Latin Expanded, Bradley Italic, Gothic, P.T. Barnum, Mowry Antique and Palantino Italic.

He printed it at his business, Now It's Up to You, at his home in Denver, where he has about a dozen historic printing presses, about 2,500 fonts of metal type and hundreds of fonts of wooden type and thousands of antique printer's cuts, ornaments and borders, which will go to the museum. For a period, he attended auctions every weekend, he said.

He got interested in printing through a study of poetry, which is sometimes printed on the old presses in limited editions. His large library of poetry and typographic history will also have a place in the museum.

His wife, Patti Parson, is managing producer for the PBS NewsHour, with responsibility for budgets and production staff news coverage, writing foundation grants that have secured millions, according to the couple's proposal to the City of Englewood, presented Feb. 28.

An open house to benefit the project was held on Oct. 26 at Ray Tomasso's studio in Englewood, which houses many more antique printing presses, including a Washington Press, circa 1891, where depot volunteer Wilson Thomas was printing souvenir posters, one at a time.

The organizers were selling subscriptions to a folio of letterpress prints contributed by artists around the world — to be delivered in the spring of 2014 — for donations starting at $150.

Tom Parson said he and his wife are in the middle of setting a schedule for renovation of the interior, which involves bringing it up to ADA standards, adding heat, electricity, plumbing, handicap-accessible bathrooms … and an east wall in the basement.

They are also in the middle of setting up a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation, which will ease the process of getting donations. They have sufficient funds to renovate the old building, which will have a preservation easement on the facade, per state historical society standards.

His start-up mailing list of 90 includes young art student/interns who have learned to make plastic printing plates with a computer, using the old typestyles; the guild of book workers and individual printing aficionados such as Wilson Thomas, who is also a teacher and musician who recently moved to Denver. There are a number of interested women also, involved with Etsy and the craft movement.

He hopes to cooperate with city organizations and others to provide public access. The city's community gardens are next to his property and he hopes the gardeners may want to meet at the museum on occasion, for example.

A membership structure will be established in the future.

“The biggest problem is the building itself,” which needs substantial work, Parson said. Architect friends are working on design solutions, which will include a lift for the handicapped from the main floor to basement, where the print shop will be established.

Watch for progress on the Mission Style depot.

Englewood's managers and departments have been “really great and helpful,” Parson said, including building, zoning, fire, etc.

For information: englewooddepot@gmail.com, or Parson can be reached at 720-480-5358.


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