Franklin County firm tapped to build museum

Published 12:00 am Friday, January 24, 2003

CENTREVILLE &045; A Franklin County construction company has been contracted to build the Centreville Museum, which will focus primarily on the history of Camp Van Dorn &045; an army base here where 40,000 soldiers were housed during World War II.

Owen Holland and Sons, Inc. of Bude was awarded the $422,000 contract over two other bidders, according to Centreville Museum Committee member Brock Slabach.

The group plans to restore the old Marsalis family store on Main Street to house the exhibit space of the museum.

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Originally a bank in the early 1900s, only a shell of the red brick structure remains today. &uot;There will also be an addition to the rear of the old building, which will include restrooms, workrooms and a community room&uot; said Slabach.

Robert J. Cangelosi of the New Orleans architectural firm of Koch and Wilson will oversee the work, which should begin soon,

Slabach said.

The project was funded last fall through a $375,000 grant from the Mississippi Department of Archives and History. The committee was required to raise $75,000 in matching funds, which it borrowed

from a local bank so that construction could start.

Committee members said they have raised about half of the matching fund amount, and future donations will be used to pay off that loan.

Built just south of Centreville in 1942, Camp Van Dorn was a training base for the 63rd &uot;Blood and Fire&uot; and the 99th &uot;Checkerboard&uot; divisions, both of which fought in Europe during World War II. The base closed after the war ended in 1945.

In addition to spotlighting Camp Van Dorn, the museum will document other historical aspects of the Centreville area.

&uot;We want this to be an educational experience for everyone. This museum has the chance to be something really special,&uot; said committee chairman Mildred Field.

Veterans from both divisions are involved in the museum project, which began in 1998. Donations to the museum are tax deductible, and can be mailed to P.O. Box 1045, Centreville, MS