Artist and teacher Kerry Moosman got some bad news this weekend. Friends in Atlanta told him that the roof of the Atlanta Club, the building Moosman has been restoring since he bought it in 1999, had collapsed from heavy snow.
Moosman hasn’t been able to see the damage for himself because the road is currently closed because of winter weather. But photos sent by friends who stay year-round in the remote mountain town confirm that most of the roof has fallen in.
In recent years, Atlanta, which is about 130 miles east of Boise at the base of Greylock Mountain, has become an artists’ colony. Moosman, an award-winning ceramic artist, has deep roots there. He grew up in the town. Past generations of his family mined in the area.
The Atlanta Club, on Main Street, was the largest building in the former mining town, said Moosman.
The club, which is now a gathering place for Moosman’s friends, also had a storied past. Built of concrete to withstand fire by a Yugoslavian bootlegger in 1941, the building once was home to a nightclub and bar, as well as a lunch room, dance hall, general store and ice cream parlor. It also had a three-bedroom apartment. The building held Moosman’s collections, historic bottles, kerosene lamps, dishes and more that he has been collecting for decades.
“Everything in the building was 150 years old,” said Moosman, including old shop cases, the club’s original bar and back bar. “It was iconic. Something straight out of the Old West.”
Rachel Reichert, James Castle House manager/community relations manager for the Boise City Department of Arts and History and a part-time Atlanta resident, said the loss of the building is devastating.
“If Atlanta had a mayor, it would be Kerry. And if Atlanta had a town hall, it would be the Atlanta Club,” said Reichert.
Moosman, because of his long history in Atlanta, has worked to preserve the town’s historic structures for more than three decades. But he also has been the keeper of Atlanta history through his careful collection of artifacts, newspaper articles and more. He has worked to find descendants of Atlanta pioneers and recorded their family histories. All of those records are in the Atlanta Club and endangered because of the collapse, said Reichert.
“I’m hoping we can come together with an immediate action plan to get things out of the building,” said Reichert. Plans are also in the works for a future fundraiser for repairs.
Moosman did not have insurance. As soon as it’s possible to travel to Atlanta, he’ll see what he can salvage. Moosman said dealing with the news is like being in a dream state.
“But I can’t change what happened. It’s life,” he said Monday afternoon.