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Nonprofit seeks to rebuild after fire claims historic Chastain Park structure

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Conservancy group has launched a “Restore Chastain” campaign to raise funds for a new building

Metal building surrounded by flowers and a truck.
Chastain Park’s well-known Quonset hut is no more.
Courtesy of Chastain Park Conservancy/Carson Matthews Photography

It took only a couple of hours for fire to claim one of Chastain Park’s most recognizable and historic structures: a 1940s Quonset hut.

On January 4, firefighters responded to a 911 call at Chastain Park, where they found the building engulfed in flames, with portions of it already collapsed. The source of the fire has been determined to be electrical in nature, officials tell Curbed Atlanta.

“[Atlanta Fire Department] officials say the fire started above an office on the first floor,” said Randee Kelly, communications director for Chastain Park Conservancy, the nonprofit that oversees the park’s natural and historic resources. “The office was not in use and nothing was on, leading officials to believe it was due to the age and condition of the wiring itself.”

Quonset huts initially were produced by the military for use during World War II. This particular structure, located in the middle of the park’s golf course, originally served as the operational headquarters during the construction of Chastain Park in the 1940s.

Afterwards, it stood vacant and neglected until 2003, when the Chastain Park Conservancy was founded. The nonprofit claimed the hut for its headquarters, using it to store vehicles and tools, as well as meeting space for garden clubs, volunteers, 4-H classes, and other needs.

As a result, in addition to the structure itself, the fire claimed all of the conservancy’s office contents, a pickup truck, riding mowers, and a large variety of tools. Once cleanup is complete, the conservancy plans to rebuild on or near the hut’s site.

To do so, the Chastain Park Conservancy launched Restore Chastain, a campaign to raise funds to bridge the gap for expenses not covered by insurance.

“Over the past 15 years, so many of our resources were secondhand,” Kelly said. “The insurance value, monetarily speaking, will not replace their actual worth.”

The conservancy set up a GoFundMe page, with a target goal of $50,000. Through January 13, $18,565 had been raised. Those funds will go toward the rehabilitation of operations.

However, the conservancy welcomes donations beyond monetary funds, Kelly noted.

“We truly welcome involvement in all forms,” Kelly said. “Whether that be time, talent, donations, services, presence, ideas, suggestions, sponsorship, partnership … the list goes on and on. Our hope is for park involvement to be something that becomes second nature.”