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Building History: Historic USO

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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- The Hannah Block Historic USO Center at 2nd and Orange streets in Wilmington houses historical artifacts for residents and tourists to explore.

"Thalian Association manages the historic Hannah Block USO Community Arts Center for the City of Wilmington," Thalian Association Managing Director Susan Habas said. "We have proudly managed this since 1994."

The building maintains much of its look back to the 1940s.

"The lobby area has been restored to what it looked like in 1943. When you walk in the front door you are greeted by a model of the young lady in World War II-era dress and shoes, and she was a hostess," historian Wilbur Jones said. "The building is on the Federal National Register of Historic Places."

It opened in December 1941 as a project between Wilmington and the United Service Organizations (USO).

The museum tells tales of those who stepped up while service members were deployed by working and caring for families. It also memorializes those who paid the ultimate price of war.

"We had 122 men and one woman who were aviators during the war. Thirty-nine of them died," Jones said. "My favorite girl of all time, Rosie the Riveter, is there to greet you with a photo murel disply of what life was like on the Wilmington homefront."

The Wilmington City Council approved naming the Lower Atrium Studio in honor of Don Ansell for his contributions in saving the cultural resource center, as well as his contributions to the artistic community in Wilmington.

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