LGBTQ Atlanta community center damaged by fire, smoke

A small fire broke out at the Phillip Rush Center early Friday, causing the facility to temporarily shut down.

The Candler Park facility is home to the Health Initiative, Georgia Equality, Atlanta Pride, SOJOURN and several other LGBTQ and progressive organizations.

No one was in the building when the fire started, according to Jeff Graham, executive director of Georgia Equality.

“When we came in this morning there had been a small fire in one of the offices here – a counseling office,” he told Project Q Atlanta.

No one was hurt and there was no “widespread damage,” according to Graham. But the lingering smell of smoke forced the Rush Center to close for the day.

“We’ll be letting the Rush Center air out,” he said.

Rush Center Board Chair Gail Cowie and the Atlanta Fire Rescue Department did not immediately respond to Project Q’s questions about the fire. 

The Rush Center and some of its tenants have been making news recently.

Atlanta Pride has faced several board and staff resignations and criticism over its leadership since October. 

The Rush Center’s longtime leader, Linda Ellis, resigned in December. And a prominent LGBTQ non-profit professional claimed that the Rush Center fired him in retaliation for organizing a union for the LGBTQ center’s employees. 

The facility that became the Rush Center was created in 2008 and later renovated to allow more organizations to have offices there.