For many who reside in the tiny mining town of Atlanta, Idaho the attraction is not the chance to discover gold, but the prospect of saving and restoring historic buildings. Here, the town’s restoration efforts begin with historian and artist Kerry Moosman.
Born and raised in Atlanta, Kerry Moosman has always had a keen interest in the pioneers that built and lived in this rugged and isolated spot. He has been researching their history and preserving their buildings for most of his life. He is a well-known ceramic artist by trade, and his oversized hand built vessels can be viewed in the Boise and Portland Art Museums.
Moosman has moved, rebuilt and restored at least ten buildings since he began pulling them out of the dirt and patiently restoring them. One of his more dramatic restoration feats was the shoring up and lifting of the vertically predisposed Company House onto skids and dragging it precariously up Pine Street to its current sunny location at the foot of Greylock Mountain. This two-room building with outrageously high ceilings will lodge students this summer and was formerly the home to a mining official at the turn of the century.
Besides the Company House, Moosman’s list includes extensive restoration on the pioneer cemetery, the town’s original barber shop, gas station, a small structure rumored to have been an early brothel, a bath house, chicken coop, a log cabin that had fallen into its own cellar, a large barn and the Cindy Bowl and Heidi Bowl winsome neighboring homes on Pine Street. The old five-room Briggs house was his first project and it is a beautifully restored time capsule of life in the 1800’s. He also pulled the 1910 jailhouse out of the creek (water was running through the building). It now is the centerpiece of the town park and houses historic photos of Atlanta.
Just as many early mining towns developed, Atlanta became home to pioneers, confederates, miners, criminals and homesteaders. But unlike most of these towns today, Atlanta has found its place and relevance both in its history and its contemporary condition. Residents of this tiny mining town, taking their cue from the perseverance and foresight of Kerry Moosman, have saved over 40 buildings. Digging homes out the dirt, and patiently bringing them back to life board by board might be Atlanta’s new legacy.