- Associated Press - Saturday, June 14, 2014

HOUMA, La. (AP) - Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne will be the keynote speaker when the Regional Military Museum in Houma opens its new Barrow Street building on July 4.

Museum founder C.J. Christ told The Courier (https://bit.ly/1hJZ8fa) that the 6,000-square-foot building, next door to the original museum, is the first of two phases of construction planned at the site.

Work on the $7 million building began in September. Christ says funding came from tax collections of the Terrebonne Parish Veterans Memorial District.

The new building will dwarf the existing structure, which was built in 1946.

A gift shop should open before the end of the year, Crist said.

He said phase two is the planning stage.

Within the next five years, expansion should add office space, a library and a conference room to the new building.

“We’re very cramped,” Christ said. “As of right now, we’re using our kitchen as a conference room.”

The new building’s main exhibit will be a replica of a World War II Grumman TBF Avenger torpedo bomber, which will be suspended from the ceiling.

Richard Cossé, the museum’s restoration specialist, said he hopes to place the final touches on the aircraft within two weeks.

Other exhibits will include various artifacts from uniforms to photos.

Across the street from the building, Cossé spends most of his time working in the restoration center.

Christ bought the center in 2011, and artifacts will continue to be restored in the location.

Cossé said many area residents have donated war artifacts, although others have come from various locations throughout the country.

In addition to individual donors, the Wedell-Williams Memorial Aviation and Cypress Sawmill Museum in Patterson recently donated several artifacts to the museum.

Christ founded the museum in the early 2000s after collecting a large amount of memorabilia.

The Korean War Air Force pilot, along with other veterans, opened the museum to the public in 2008.

Limited space in the current building is the main reason for the new structure, Christ said. The museum has no room for dozens of military vehicles and other memorabilia that are in storage. Its collection includes more than 5,000 artifacts.

In 2010, voters approved the property tax that will allow the Terrebonne Parish Veterans Memorial District to collect about $3.8 million for the structure over a 10-year period.


Information from: The Courier, https://www.houmatoday.com

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