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MSU adds Newberry building to Riley Center project

By By Steve Gillespie / staff writer
October 14, 2003
A construction fence surrounding the Grand Opera House and Marks-Rothenberg building project will soon be extended along Fifth and Sixth streets in downtown Meridian to include the Newberry building.
Dr. Bev. R. Norment, special assistant to the president of Mississippi State University which is overseeing the renovation project said the Newberry building was donated to MSU.
MSU now owns the Marks-Rothenberg building, the Newberry building and the Grand Opera House and is working toward turning them into the Riley Education and Performing Arts Center.
When completed, the Riley Center will include a renovated opera house for live performances and a new meeting and conference center inside the Marks-Rothenberg building
The Newberry building was built in 1892. Norment said that in its early days the third floor was used to build scenery and store props for the opera house.
Norment also said the building is valuable to the project in other ways. It has loading access at street level, it can store material related to the opera house and it has an office for the opera house stage manager.
Earlier this month, Lauderdale County supervisors approved a request from MSU to use up to $250,000 of $3 million supervisors appropriated for the Riley Center as a local match for a grant it is pursuing to renovate the Newberry building.
He said state and federal grants are being sought for renovation of the Newberry building.
Norment said project architects have already examined the Newberry building. He said plans are in place to remove hazardous materials from the Marks-Rothenberg building and opera house later this fall.