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Van Dorn museum nears completion

The Camp Van Dorn Museum building at Centreville MS, is complete, according to chairman Mildred Field.

The museum newsletter from November 2003, gave the following report:

In October 2001, an application was made to the Mississippi Department of Archives and History (MDAH) and its Community Heritage Preservation Grant Program for a grant to restore the former Marsalis Building, located at 138 E. Main Street in downtown Centreville.

In January 2002, the project was funded for a total of $450,000, with 20 percent of that amount to be matched by the local community.

In order to comply with the MDAH grant stipulations, a loan was negotiated for the 20 percent matching portion.

In December 2002, bids were received and Owen Holland & Sons Construction Company was awarded the project. The restoration project began in early 2003.

The scope of the work was for the adaptive reuse of this existing early 20th century bank building as exhibit space for the Centreville Museum and its Camp Van Dorn Collection.

In addition to the restoration project, there was a significant expansion to the rear of the building to house the director's office, storage space, hallway exhibit space, a loading dock, and a community educational room.

Field said, "I want you to consider making a contribution to the Centreville Museum. We have a goal of $75,000. No matter how large or how small, every little bit will help create a museum to sustain the legacy of the veterans who fought during World War II."

Contributions are tax deductible and may be sent to Centreville Museum, PO Box 1113, Centreville MS 39631-1113.

A history

Camp Van Dorn operated as a base for two divisions of the U.S. Army, the 99th (Checkerboard) and the 63rd (Blood and Fire) divisions.

Camp Van Dorn was the staging area for these two divisions for basic training. It was one of the largest basic training camps in the U.S.

Members of these divisions fought in the Battle of the Bulge, Remagen Bridge, Colmar Pocket, and Siegfried Line. They suffered more than 10,000 casualties, giving the ultimate sacrifice for freedom.

Centreville and the surrounding area was bustling with activity during WWII. The thousands of troops stationed at Camp Van Dorn provided a significant boost to the local economy. Today, many of the men who trained at Camp Van Dorn return to see what is left of the site.

Today

Representatives from the museum will present a program at the breakfast Aug. 5 during the 99th Infantry Division Association 55th annual convention at the Imperial Palace Hotel, Biloxi MS.

Field has graciously extended an invitation to veterans who attend the Biloxi convention to travel to Centreville to view the museum at the conclusion of the convention.

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