- Associated Press - Sunday, June 22, 2014

PHILADELPHIA, Miss. (AP) - Renovation of the historic Coca-Cola building in Philadelphia is underway to transform the building into a warehouse associated with the proposed Marty Stuart Center.

The Coca-Cola sign painted on the east side of the building will be restored, officials have said.

Plans call for only minor changes to the front of the entrance of the building, while the windows on the north side will be closed so that natural lighting would not affect the artifacts eventually housed inside.

Tyler Construction Group of Philadelphia was awarded the project with a base bid of $320,000.

Community Development Partnership President David Vowell said the renovation would first focus on the masonry, roof and windows.

“They’ll upgrade the entire exterior but nothing too massive,” he said. “It will look basically the same.”

E. Bowden “Skip” Wyatt, of Foil Wyatt Architects & Planners PLLC, was chosen in January to design the warehouse.

Wyatt said workers would redo the brick work and clean, paint and patch the exterior.

“We’ll put it (the building) back like it was and add stucco,” he said.

The building was constructed in 1926, according to a history of the Coca-Cola company published in The Neshoba Democrat in 1985.

The Coca-Cola bottling operation and The Neshoba Democrat shared the building from the early 1930s at the height of the Great Depression to the late 1950s, a span that covered the editorships of Robin Weaver and Duke Thornton.

The Coke plant eventually occupied the entire building and closed in 1985 when the bottling operation was sold.

O.B Fox, the man who first bottled Coca-Cola in Neshoba County in 1909, published the Democrat from 1906 to 1911. Fox’s grandson, Kenneth Lewis, owned the bottling company when it was sold.

The two-story brick Coca-Cola building was built on the site of the Cenie Powell photo studio.

The Neshoba Democrat for many years was located next door in what is now the Branning law office.

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