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Children’s museum project ‘coming together’

The Commercial Dispatch

Columbus-Lowndes Convention and Visitors Bureau Board members are starting to get excited about the design phase of a new children's museum downtown. 

CVB board member Mark Castleberry, who is also a local developer, meets regularly with Jackson-based Dale Partners architect firm and Dublin, Ohio-based designer Roto, to discuss the formative phases of the museum that will one day occupy the old Elks Building on Main Street.  

During Monday's CVB board meeting, he reported some preliminary work has been focused on safety considerations at the old building, such as fencing, lighting and if stairwells are big enough to handle sufficient crowds. 

"It hasn't really been real sexy up to this point, with the exception that they've got some really nice ideas to start talking about," Castleberry said. "But it's coming together." 

CVB Executive Director Nancy Carpenter said the process hasn't advanced far enough to have a firm estimate of the museum's cost. She has previously indicated it may cost between $1 million and $1.5 million. She also noted a planned 2018 completion date might slip to late 2018 or 2019. 

"They're coming up with some great sketches, and I would say people should get ready," Carpenter said. "It will be one of the finest children's museums anywhere." 

The CVB purchased the Elks Building from Frank and Dean Loftus in December 2015 for $450,000, with the Loftuses donating $200,000 of the total $650,000 purchase price. 

 

Looking forward 

Carpenter reported the CVB is wrapping up a successful 2016 and already has many events planned for 2017. 

In April, Columbus will host the Mississippi Association of Supervisors meeting, and the city will host the state's National Association for the Advancement of Colored People conference in early November. 

The city will also host a Homecoming Gospel Music Tribute Concert, featuring gospel artist Dorothy McClung Lewis, on Sunday at Trotter Convention Center. 

The CVB calendar also features the Mississippi State Committee of the National Museum for Women in the Arts Conference in early March and the BASSMASTER fishing tournament in late March, which Carpenter said should draw more than 1,000 people to the city. 

CVB will also host Pilgrimage from March 30 to April 8. Carpenter said she hopes an ongoing $367,000 improvement project to Catfish Alley will be finished in time for Pilgrimage. The project will renovate two alleys on the north and south sides of Jones Cafe on Fourth Street South. It will also add a brick landing to the grass area between the alleys and the Tennessee Williams home. 

"I've encouraged them to use that date as a sort of drop date on when it will be ready," Carpenter said. "We're doing the kick off for the Pilgrimage with the shrimp and crawfish boil, and we'll have live music. It will be great having lighting and everything out there during that time."

 

Alex Holloway

January 24, 2017 11:02:35 AM

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