PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) - Governor Phil Bryant was the guest of honor in Pascagoula Thursday evening at the Mississippi Maritime Museum annual membership meeting.
A major fund raising drive will soon be launched to help support the project.
"A lot of people in this community walked these halls in their high school careers," said museum Vice President Terry Bollman, as he gave a tour of the old building. "So, they have a lot of memories. Lot of nostalgia for this building."
The old high school days may soon be replaced with a new generation learning about Pascagoula's rich, maritime history. Plans call for transforming the old band hall and math & science building into a world class museum.
"The museum to heighten the awareness of their history, heighten the pride of their community, and what it does for the country and the world," said Bollman.
Ingalls built 85 percent of the warships in the U.S. fleet. However, the area's maritime history goes back more than 300 years, when Pierre Le Moyne d'Iberville landed.
"On his original ship manifest, he had 13 ship's carpenters and they wound up going up the Pascagoula River; about 27 miles to a land grant," said museum treasurer, Robert Hardy. "And they established a colony and started building barges, and flat boats and sailing boats,"
With the large size of the buildings, there will be plenty of room for artifacts and pictures and displays. Even so, museum organizers say the real emphasis will be on interactive, high tech, hands-on learning.
"Most importantly, it's to serve as a portal to educate our youth. And through that portal, expose them to career opportunities in the maritime industry," said Hardy.
Residents can expect to hear more soon about a capital campaign. Early fundraising efforts are promising.
"So far we've raised approximately $750,000 on this project," said Hardy. "And recently we were advised that another $250,000 will be forthcoming."
The total cost of the Mississippi Maritime Museum project is around $6 million.