Side Trip: The Atlanta School


About two hours west of Boise, Idaho, past silent burnt-out forests and through a rocky one-lane dirt highway, lies the magical mountain town of Atlanta, Idaho, population 42. Our Boise guide, Ashley, told us about the sleepy former mining town which is now a refuge for artists, historians, individualists, miners and naturalists.

It is also the home of a device-free, female-run artists' retreat called The Atlanta School.


We knew we couldn’t miss out on the experience of seeing it for ourselves. When we arrived that evening, slightly shaken from the beautiful yet harrowing mountainside drive, we were welcomed by Amy O’Brien and Rachel Reichert, founders of the The Atlanta School and esteemed artists from the Boise area. Their love of restoration and support of their artistic community led them to create the school, which hosts artist-in-residence programs for artists, writers, architects, historians, musicians, filmmakers and choreographers who need a place to focus on their work.

They graciously set us up in one of the restored homes from the late 1800s. Stepping inside is like stepping inside a Walt Whitman novel: the restoration is mind-blowingly accurate. Amy scours the town’s archives to find photos of the interiors and exteriors of the dwellings, then matches the details, note for note. As was true to life in the 19th century, there is no running water, electricity or wi-fi. We immediately surrendered to our new reality, and ventured outside to join Amy, Rachel and other residents for a fireside chat. For hours, we swapped stories, played music and enjoyed a night under the stars—no cell phones necessary.


The next day, we got the full tour of Atlanta and the restored buildings of The Atlanta School, then got to chat a little more with Rachel and Amy about life in Atlanta and what artists will take away after completing their mountainside retreat. Watch the video below.


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