- Associated Press - Friday, October 3, 2014

KENNESAW, Ga. (AP) — During a groundbreaking recently, Mayor Mark Mathews said the city of Kennesaw is seeing another of its dreams fulfilled.

The Southern Museum of Civil War & Locomotive History kicked off a $1.1 million project, which will add an 8,700-square-foot expansion to the museum’s research center that Mathews said has been in the works for several years.

“The Smithsonian declared this collection the best archaeological find from the Industrial Revolution they have ever seen,” he said. “This (project) will provide much needed archival space and improved public access to a museum collection that has grown significantly.”

The museum’s collection includes more than 45,000 rare photographs of southeastern railroads, an artifact collection from Glover Machine Works and thousands of southern railroad-related documents.

Richard Banz, executive director of the museum, is extremely proud of its collection.

“You can’t find a collection like this anywhere,” he said. “Our goal is to be the national center of southeastern railroad research.”

Banz said the collection outgrew the 50,000-square-foot museum years ago, resulting in many items remaining unseen by the public.

“Many of our artifacts have never been seen before,” he said. “We’re processing them now so they’ll be available when we open in March.”

Banz said the idea for an expansion came up in 2007, but the recession made it hard to receive funding.

“It was a real challenge dealing with things on the state side,” he said. “We had various problems with bidding, were repeatedly told our concept was over-designed, but it was all worth the wait.”

Banz expects the project to wrap up by March 17.

Of the $1.1 million, $500,000 is coming from a transportation project grant, and the remaining amount is coming from private funding through the Kennesaw Museum Foundation, Banz said.

Paul Chastain, president of the foundation, said this project is “a fine example of what a true public and private partnership can do.”

“We, as private citizens, have a heart to promote quality of life in this city,” he said Friday. “This foundation is the envy, in big letters, of every other organization in this state because of the work it has done to preserve this collection.”

Prime Contractors of Douglasville will be handling construction.

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Information from: Marietta Daily Journal, http://mdjonline.com/

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