The Quonset hut that served as the Chastain Park Conservancy’s office has been destroyed by a fire that occurred Friday night at the Buckhead greenspace.
In an email Saturday, Rosa McHugh, executive director of the conservancy, a nonprofit that protects and maintains the 268-acre park, said she first heard about the fire when Jason White, president of the Chastain Park Civic Association, called her at 5:35 p.m. McHugh said she was the last person to leave the office, at 4:15 p.m.
She said there were no injuries and all the animals living on the conservancy’s grounds, including chickens, a goat and a cat, were rescued. McHugh also said the building is a total loss.
“We lost all of our tools and equipment. Thankfully, both pavilions and the greenhouse remain standing with minimal damage,” she said. “I am saddened to lose a building with so much history, one that symbolized all the great memories, successes and friendships that were achieved by the conservancy. I am thankful there were no injuries but will miss what I lovingly referred to as my ‘shabby-chic’ office.”
In a Friday night message posted to Nextdoor, a mobile app/website catering to individual neighborhoods, McHugh gave Chastain-area residents an update on the fire.
“Terribly sad to report the conservancy's historic Quonset hut has burned down to the ground,” she said. “Thank you for all your calls and concern. The fire department is here and we are getting it under control.”
Jonah Wassersug, one of three residents who posted a photo of the fire on Nextdoor, said it was “all under control now but very sad.”
The hut was expected to be named for Ray Mock, the conservancy’s director of operations who died in July. In November the Atlanta City Council was to vote on a resolution to make that possible, but the vote was delayed. The council may vote on the measure at its meeting Monday.
Mock discovered the hut in 2000 while working at Chastain Park for Park Pride and looking for a place to stage the park’s volunteer events. At the time the hut was about 60 years old, had years earlier been abandoned by the city and was overgrown with kudzu.
“He begged, borrowed and (stole) until he got a lease from the city on it for $1 a year,” his wife Sarah said of the hut in July, shortly after Mock’s death.
Mock, a conservancy co-founder, had it transformed into a building that served as an office, storage space and working barn. It is now part of a larger Farm Chastain complex that includes a garden, a greenhouse and two outdoor pavilions, all of which he had a hand in.
A Friday night email sent to the Atlanta Fire Rescue Department seeking comment on the fire and more information on it, including a possible cause, was not returned as of Saturday afternoon.
McHugh said the fire’s cause has not been determined yet. When asked if the conservancy will build a new hut to replace the old one, she said, “Perhaps. At a minimum we would like the grounds to remain a place for the community to gather and enjoy.”
McHugh thanked many individuals for their help regarding the fire.
“I would like to thank all the firefighters for their professionalism and support,” she said. “I am grateful to the new (Atlanta) parks (and recreation) commissioner, John Dargle, for being there with me last night as well as (District 8 Atlanta) City Council member J.P. Matzigkeit. Finally, I am thankful for the Chastain Park community and all the neighbors that have contacted us with concern and support for our mission.”