The Chastain Park Conservancy is vowing to “rise again” after a Jan. 4 fire destroyed its headquarters building.
“Like Atlanta’s beloved symbol, the Phoenix, the Conservancy will rise again — better than ever — from the ashes,” said Executive Director Rosa McHugh on the group’s website. “Our board, supporters, volunteers, the city and park patrons will see to that.”
The destruction of the Quonset hut – a prefabricated steel structure dating to the 1940s – known as “The Barn” was the second big loss to the Conservancy in recent months. Ray Mock, the park group’s co-founder and director of operations, died at age 66. Mock had led the renovation of the Barn starting in 2003, and the Conservancy planned to rename it and the surrounding area after him, in cooperation with City Councilmember J.P. Matzigkeit, who is another of the group’s founders.
“We will continue to work to create a space that conveys his love for the park and its community of park users,” McHugh said in the website statement.
McHugh said in the statement that the fire started around 5:15 p.m. and that the cause was unknown. “Electrical work” was being performed on the building, she said.
No other structures or surrounding trees were seriously damaged, and various animals survived, including a cat, a goat and honeybees. The Conservancy’s records are largely online, McHugh said. However, the group lost a pickup trucker, mowers and equipment used by volunteers in park maintenance and cleanups.
“Although this loss poses a great inconvenience, it is more about the heartbreak it causes,” McHugh said.
The day before the fire, the Conservancy had announced a new director of operations and volunteer programs. Mark Nelson came to the organization after serving in a similar role at the Piedmont Park Conservancy.