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PASCAGOULA, Miss. Organizers of the Mississippi Maritime and Warship Museum have formally taken ownership of the math/science building and the band hall at the old Pascagoula High School.
http://blog.gulflive.com/mississippi-press-news/2013/03/maritime_museum_closes_loan_on.html">The Mississippi Press reports that museum officials closed a $150,000 loan this week to buy the buildings and some adjacent land.
The math and science building, which is about 17,000 square feet, will become the interim museum.
"Structurally, it's a very sound building," said museum group president Pat Keene said. "It's going to make a good home for us."
The band hall will be used as a workshop for sorting and restoring artifacts and memorabilia, said group member Jack Hoover.
Hoover said once they get this museum up and running, they will then concentrate more on the second phase of the project. They want to buy and bring the Navy's first Aegis Classic Cruiser, Ticonderoga, back to Lowry Island in Jackson County as a museum and learning center.
It will cost more than $30 million to bring the Ticonderoga ship to Jackson County.
The ship was built in the 1980s at Ingalls Shipyard in Pascagoula.
"We consider this to be a very historic day for our project," Keene said. "You can't seek grants until you have a facility in hand, and our next priority will be grants."
The group will also soon begin seeking donations for the museum.
"We've got a lot of space in that building," Hoover said. "But we've been building ships here for about 300 years. We've got a real legacy here."
One of the group's first donations, a painting of the Ticonderoga, was received more than a year ago from Sherry Hamrick, the mother of a dying sailor who served aboard the ship.
That sailor, Joseph Hamrick, was on the ship's first deployment and wanted the painting go inside the museum.