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Country music and soda pop — old plant might become museum warehouse

Coca-Cola-Art_Coke_Bottle4Mississippi’s creative economy could soon get a boost if an historic structure can be renovated and re-purposed as a facility honoring one of the state’s successful recording artists.

Community Development Partnership is petitioning the Neshoba County Board of Supervisors to allow the old Coca-Cola Building in Philadelphia, currently owned by the county, to be transferred to the Industrial Development Authority. This would allow the facility, which was built in the 1920s, to get a facelift and become a new warehouse for the proposed Marty Stuart Center.

The Neshoba Democrat reports Vowell told supervisors that having the warehouse for part of Stuart’s Country Music collection is needed for the project to move forward.

The building most recently housed a furniture store and is currently being used as storage space for the county.

The renovation would be funded through $1 million in state bond proceeds allocated for the proposed Marty Stuart Center earlier this year, Vowell said.

“It is hoped that once this building is renovated and some of the Marty Stuart collection is housed in Philadelphia that this location will be very helpful in raising funds from the private sector to support the Marty Stuart museum effort,” Vowell said.

Stuart, a Neshoba County native, said the center would be a combination of a museum, theater and classroom.

County administrator Benjie Coats said if the Stuart Center does not become a reality, ownership of the building would revert back to the county as part of the agreement.

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.

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

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About Wally Northway