Depot museum looking for artifacts

Published 12:12 pm Friday, October 15, 2010

The public can have a hand in helping transform the Levee Street Depot into the new Vicksburg Transportation Museum, its developer said Thursday.

Battlefield Museum owner Lamar Roberts is asking for donations of transportation artifacts to be included as exhibits in the depot, where renovations began Monday. He also is seeking financial donations to help renovate the third floor of the building.

“It’s taken five years to get this far,” Roberts told Port City Kiwanians Thursday. “I knew eventually we were going to get started. They’ve (Kenneth R. Thompson Jr. Builder Inc. of Greenwood) got a 10-month contract so it’ll be next summer before we start moving in.”

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The Board of Mayor and Aldermen voted last week to advance the $1.9 million for the redevelopment project, which had been stalled twice because the Mississippi Department of Transportation had withheld the federal stimulus money awarded to the project.

The release of the funds is pending completion of the city’s 2008-09 audits, which are estimated to be finished within a year, after which the city will apply for full reimbursement.

The new museum will be based on the ground floor of the 14,000-square-foot, three-story depot, and the Vicksburg Main Street Program and the Vicksburg Convention and Visitors Bureau will hold offices on the second floor.

Museum exhibits will include transportation artifacts, scale steamship models, aviation displays and scale railroad layouts, much like the exhibits at the Battlefield Museum, which Roberts operates on North Frontage Road in front of Battlefield Inn.

The depot’s third floor was not included in the renovation plan because of lack of funding, Roberts said.

“Right now, they’re not doing the third floor, but we hope to raise money for it,” Roberts said. “It’s going to take several hundred thousand to renovate it.”

There are no details yet on how money will be collected.

The 103-year-old depot will be part of a revitalized downtown area, which includes the Riverfront Murals, the art park and splash fountain at Catfish Row, a playground and a new interpretive center, which is under construction by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.