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For her birthday on August 5, N.C. Maritime Museum at Southport director Mary Strickland received a welcome gift.
The U.S. Lands to Parks office had officially signed a new 10-year concession agreement, finalizing documents that allow the museum to be housed in the former officers quarters of Fort Johnston for the foreseeable future.
The agreement required the signatures of various state agencies and officials, the museum’s support group chair, the City of Southport and the federal government.
“It had to be perfect,” Strickland said. “If we changed even one word, we had to go back and seek approval from everyone, so it was not only an important document, but one that had to been handled with care.”
Now that the concession agreement, which serves similarly to a lease, has been completed, the museum can move forward with its expansion plans. An initial phase calls for the addition of new bathroom, classroom, workshop and storage space at the rear of the building.
“We hope to be able to offer a very useful research library, a media center and provide upgraded office space for our staff,” Strickland said. “We have a staff that is ambitious and committed, and it was distressful to worry year after year if we were going to be here.”
Strickland said about one-third of the fundraising effort has been completed so far, and praised local members of the Friends of the Museum group, led by chairman Shirley Wilson, and expansion chair Walt Madsen for their efforts.
“We have worked diligently for the past two years on this, and we are so happy to be where we are now,” Strickland said.
The museum moved to the grounds of Fort Johnston in March 2010, after being housed on North Howe Street since 1992.From State Port Pilot
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