The flag isn’t flying, and the parking lot is empty at Rocky Mount Moose Lodge 1053 on Grassy Hill Road, but Joe Ratliff of the Ratliff Group LLC is looking to change that.

Ratliff, of Martinsville, purchased the building and its 2 acres in March after Moose International closed the lodge due to declining membership.

Since then, Ratliff has met his goal of improving the property with maintenance work on the roof, ceilings and lighting, as well as extensive cleaning, especially in the kitchen.

“It’s been a journey,” he said.

He’s also learned a bit of history from the building, seeing where there had been designated rooms for smoking and playing poker, as well as the spot where a large moose head once hung.

Ratliff learned of the property’s availability from Lisa Kester of Commonwealth Realtors in Collinsville, who had been a Moose member in the Bassett area.

Kester said the county wants business there. Mike Burnette, director of the Office of Economic Development in Franklin County, said the property is zoned for general business.

To prepare the building for sale, Evans Real Estate and Auction Company will hold an auction Saturday, Sept. 7, starting at 10 a.m. at the lodge at 155 Grassy Hill Road. The lodge’s contents and several estates will be offered for sale.

Ratliff said the auction should be fun, too. “You never know what treasure you’re going to find,” he said. “There’s some really good old stuff. Anything you can imagine is here.”

Items include coins, large flat screen TVs, washers and dryers, a room full of tools, a Ford Mustang, a boat and trailer, fishing rods, jewelry and furniture.

The Rocky Mount Moose Lodge was chartered in January, 1959 and the building was constructed in 1960. Kester said former Franklin County Commonwealth Attorney Virgil Goode Sr. was one of the lodge’s first members. The first officers were installed by Frank Wray, regional director, on Aug. 13, 1958.

According to Moose International, “The Moose Fraternity is an international organization of men and women dedicated to caring for young and old, bringing communities closer together and celebrating life.”

Former Commonwealth Delegate Allen Dudley, Sr. was a member for 25 years from the 1980s through early 2000s and also served as the group’s governor [president].

Jerry Leonard of Rocky Mount was a member of the Rocky Mount Moose from 1973 through 2019. “I hated to see it close up and go out of business,” he said.

The lodge had more than 300 members at one time, he said, with its best years from 1972 through 2012.

“When they had a big dance, you’d better get your tickets,” Leonard said.

Leonard said he misses being at the lodge and talking with friends. Another fond memory for Leonard was having his daughter’s wedding reception at the lodge. Since the lodge closed, Leonard has transferred his Moose membership to Smith Mountain Lake lodge in Moneta.

As far as what will happen to the building, Leonard said, “If you knew what you were doing and liked the restaurant business, you could probably open a good restaurant.”

Kester agreed, adding there’s a restaurant in the building and the interior walls could be removed, making it possible to house multiple businesses.

Because of the Moose International’s tax-exempt status, the Rocky Mount Moose Lodge and property has never been taxed, Kester said. The building is 7,600 square feet, sits on 2 acres that adjoins the Grassy Hill Natural Area Preserve and features plenty of room for parking.

The assessed value of the property is $650,000 and sale price is $450,000.

Ratliff said there’s been a lot of interest in the property, and he’s eager to see it used.

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