Mule Barn and museum's hopes may be demolished - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Mule Barn and museum's hopes may be demolished

August 12, 2005

Albany- With a good look at the Holman Mule Barn on Broad Avenue, it's easy to see why "Danger" signs are posted on the old barn doors.

The building has been condemned and that may have demolished the museum's hopes of moving in.

"The county was straight-forward with us and said their first and foremost concern was public safety," said Aaron Berger, director of the museum. Berger and members of the museum's board met with county officials Thursday.

Tommy Chatmon, president and CEO of Albany Tomorrow Inc. received a letter this week from Tracy Hester, interim director of Planning and Community Development. The letter read, "As of August 10, 2005, this structure is deemed dilapidated and unsafe for use or occupancy and should be secured..."

The Mule Barn belongs to the Albany-Dougherty Inner City Authority. ADICA must respond to the condemnation letter within 30 days. It will cost a million dollars just to stabilize the building.

Chatmon said if no one is willing to spend that money, the building will be demolished. So it may come down to what people in Albany want; the museum of art housed in a historic building or a parking lot.

"The hope is if we move downtown, we'll be really positioned in the center of Southwest Georgia," Berger said.

A central city location would make art accessible to more people than just the ones who live in northwest Albany, he said. But with $3 million in sales-tax money promised to the museum, the move downtown won't fall through, even if the idea of using the Mule Barn does.

"So we have now, a budget to work with between that and any additional money that we bring to the table to renovate or build or revamp a building downtown and make that our new home," he said.

To make the Mule their new home, the museum will have to raise a million dollars just to keep the barn standing.

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