Museum readies for bicentinneal

Published 9:08 am Friday, February 3, 2017

Old Depot Museum director Dave Benway has a mission.
“We want to have all the ships named Mississippi on display in the museum for the bicentennial celebration (in December),” he said as he looked over the latest addition to the state fleet, a model of the World War I era battleship USS Mississippi he built for the museum.
“We already have the Navy ships named Vicksburg,” he said.
Besides the World War I battleship Mississippi, designated by the Navy as BB-23, the museum’s collection of Mississippi-named warships include the side wheel frigate USS Mississippi, which fought in the Mexican War and was lost during the Civil War; and the nuclear powered cruiser Mississippi.
The missing members are the World War II battleship Mississippi, and the nuclear submarine Mississippi. Both, Benway said, are coming, adding he is presently building the World War II battleship.
“We have a resin model I built,” he said, pointing to a small model in a display case. “This new model is much bigger; it’s 6 1/2 feet long.”
Benway said the job of getting all the Mississippi warships together in time for the state’s 200th birthday celebration is a lot of work, “But that’s what I was hired to do.”
And the ship collection is not the only project planned for the museum. Benway said the museum is expanding to the depot’s second floor and will eventually occupy the space left by the Vicksburg Convention and Visitors Bureau, which moved to a new location on Walnut Street in the summer.
He said the museum’s warship collection and the diorama of the Siege of Vicksburg will occupy the building’s second floor. Trains and the museum’s collection of riverboat models will be on the first floor.
“But that won’t start until sometime next year,” Benway said. “We’re waiting for the city to complete it’s work.”
The city in January advertised for bids for $521,844 in renovation work at the depot. A $471,475 federal Transportation Alternative Program grant will cover 80 percent of the project cost, with the city paying the remaining 20 percent, or $104,369.
The project includes exterior work to the building’s cupola on the roof and renovations to the building’s front door to make it handicap-accessible.
Also included is replacing the depot’s elevator, which has been a problem since the building reopened in 2012, at times trapping people inside on the third floor
The repair work and the elevator replacement are the first major projects at the depot since its renovation was completed in late 2011.

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About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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