USO Restoration Rededication

Wilmington was officially proclaimed to be "America's World War II City on Thursday. A distinction claimed by no other city. The renovation project was 11 years in the making and the building is one of "a handful" of USO buildings still standing in the country. The building opened in 1941 as a recreation center for armed service personnel and the center's lobby keeps the wartime appearance theme. Former Wilmington Mayor Pro-Tem Hannah Block, the building's new namesake was known as "Mrs. World War II Wilmington.", she was sure taken aback by the refurbished building that was scheduled to be demolished a few years back: "It's exactly the way when I first walked in and it really does my heart to see that we have saved this place. Colonel Charles Murray received the Medal of Honor for valor in France in 1944. He says the USO was a place to get away for a day. There were women to entertain.. and the jitterbug was quite popular: "If these old walls could talk they would be sailors and marines and airmen from the old Wilmington army airbase and from all over the place, even ships anchored in the river." The building will serve as a community arts center. It will house a museum as well.

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Along with problems, Wilmington also has proud distinctions! Saving, restoring and utilizing our USO building is something scant other cities have done. It adds to the downtown historic restoration, our WWII history, the riverfront, and the vibrant cultural & arts community of our city. Hannah Block has done much to restore and celebrate our area.