Ocean Springs Gets Federal Grant To Save Decaying Masterpiece - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

08/12/05

Ocean Springs Gets Federal Grant To Save Decaying Masterpiece

It's easy to see the decay along the walls of the Ocean Springs Community Center.

Museum Curator Patricia Pinson pointed to the wall and said, "See these big white spots? We'll come in the mornings a lot of time, and see paint flakes laying around the bottom".

The masterpiece, painted by the late Ocean Springs artist Walter Anderson , in the 1950s, is slowly deteriorating. Pinson blames the damage on leaking rain water and on man.

"The paint has literally been rubbed off by chairs or by people rubbing against them."

But before work can begin to restore the precious jewel, the city must repair the leaks. That's where a $100,000 federal grant comes in. The first priority is to fix the windows.

"It could be storm windows. It could be some kind of system to just pull water out of the area," City Planner Donovan Scruggs said.

Another solution is to move the rest rooms.

"We're trying to get that humidity down, so by relocating the rest rooms, it would make big difference," Pinson said.

And to prevent visitors from touching the murals, the city plans to replace the metal railings with a glass barrier.

"It will be solid with no openings. That way people with children will not be able to get behind the rails," Scruggs said.

City leaders say the murals are worth as much as $10 million. That's why there's an urgent need to preserve them.

"It's certainly the largest artwork in the state, and it's very important that we conserve this," Pinson said.

"This was a first time that we have received a grant of this size for this building. We know that this is one of the primary buildings, if not the most important building in Ocean Springs. To have money come in to make sure we preserve our past is just wonderful," Scruggs said.

The $100,000 federal grant is still not enough to cover the entire cost of repairing the building and restoring the murals. So the city is applying for a $240,000 state grant to fully fund the project.

By: Trang Pham-Bui

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