GULFPORT, Miss. (WLOX) - Over the years, some of what has made South Mississippi so unique has been lost to devastating hurricanes. Now, one coast landmark is just mere months away from shining in its original splendor once again.
The work going inside the iconic building is to bring back the original charm that was washed away in Hurricane Katrina, and the time is ticking with less than three months until completion.
The old Gulfport library building is being renovated and repurposed into a new hub of bus operations in Gulfport. CTA Executive Director Kevin Coggin said it’s a Mississippi Landmark Building and they’re preserving all of the significant architectural aspects of it.
“We have lost so much over the years from hurricanes. To me, it’s one thing to build something back like it was. But, this is an opportunity to restore something that you have to work with. It’s not just a replica - we are actually restoring the building as it was," Coggin said.
The Mississippi Department of Archives and History is supervising the restoration of the Formalism Architecture that made the old library building so special to people that used the library before Katrina.
“When they walk in that library, they’re gonna see the iconic staircase, the tile, the terrazzo floor, the lighting -- we have tried to match the lighting. There’s going to be period correct furniture in there. They’re gonna remember it as it was when they came in here and did their term paper in high school," Coggin said.
The restoration of the library isn’t the only work taking place on the grounds.
“There are three elements to our project here. We’re fixing to a renovation of the garage, about an $800,000 renovation. The library renovation project is a $9.4 million project," Coggin told WLOX.
Those two phases, the garage renovation and the restoration of the Gulfport library are slated to be completed in just a little more than eleven weeks, which is also the same time that the Mississippi Aquarium is scheduled to open, April 30th.
The third and final phase, the pedestrian tram, will transport passengers to the aquarium from Jones park via a bridge over Highway 90. It is currently in the design and engineering phase.
Coggin said that the tram is estimated to cost $10 million and will be completed by the summer of 2021.