Arion Press continues as a living museum
and educational and cultural center.
Lease lost at Bryant Street
One of the last integrated typefoundry, letterpress printing, and bookbinding
facilities, in 2001 Arion Press lost the lease at 460 Bryant Street, the
South-of-Market building where it had been located since 1985 and where
its second division M & H Type had been located since 1974. Economic changes
caused by the influx of dot.com companies forced many light-industrial companies
to leave San Francisco. An extension was obtained from the landlord through
February 2001 that enabled us to complete the printing of the folio Bible
and start the binding.
Search for Permanent Home
Given the enormous weight of our equipment and the complexity of reinstallation,
we needed to find a long-term or permanent home. The real estate market
was discouraging. After many months of searching we had nearly despaired
of finding an affordable building to purchase or rent in the Bay Area. Locations
as far away as Vallejo were considered. Then the Presidio Trust offered
us a five-year lease on an industrial building that suited our needs. It
is the former steam plant and laundry that served the Public Health Services
Hospital, now closed, with an active boiler room that heats our spaces and
surrounding buildings. We occupy 14,000 square feet on two floors.
Move to the Presidio
In January 2001 we began work on the building in the Presidio. Our own staff
of typographers, printers, and binders pitched in to paint the entire interior.
Meanwhile our contractors started on other improvements including the installation
of gas, electric, water, and compressed air lines and vents for the machinery.
The Presidio Trust crew had already begun work to bring the building up
to standard. In February the move took place, with riggers transporting
the casters and presses, one weighing as much as seven tons. The type inventory
weighed over thirty tons. Six weeks more were required to put things in
place and reactivate the machinery. On April 24, a grand opening party was
held, attended by over 300 people who toured the production facilities on
the lower level and the offices and gallery on the upper level, enjoyed
an inaugural exhibition, refreshments, a jazz trio, and magnificent views
from the windows on a beautiful day.
Planning for the Future
We have taken this opportunity to think creatively about the future of this
historic facility. We have established the non-profit organization, Grabhorn
Institute, to ensure that this resource will be available to society in
years to come and to guide our evolution into a living, working museum of
printing and book arts.
The relocation crisis and the Bible project brought media attention to Arion
Press. On December 29, 2000, the PBS News Hour aired a feature on Arion
by Elizabeth Farnsworth. On February 11, 2001 the A&E channel also covered
the press, the Bible, and the move to the Presidio. You will find more details
in the following articles.
THE ARION PRESS
1802 Hays Street, The Presidio
San Francisco, California 94129