Jackson County explores old Dozier School grounds, looking to build a museum

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MARIANNA, Fla. (WMBB)–Redemption. That’s what was on the mind of Jackson County officials as they spent this morning touring Endeavor, better known as the former Dozier School for Boys property. The county’s looking to build a museum on the land and they invited the public to share their input.

The Jackson County Tourism and Development Council says their goal is to preserve history. They’ve been hard at work planning for the possibility of a museum. They’re looking to highlight both the history of Dozier and the community.

“Our goal is to make this an attraction. We want people to come and be able to go and visit and learn more about Jackson County and all of the unique things we have to offer around here,” said Chrisy Andreasen, Executive Director of the Jackson County TDC.

County officials and guests explored the property Wednesday as they visited a possible location for the museum.

“We received approval from the commission, back in September, to have the potential for the old cafeteria converted into a museum,” Andreasen said.

The project was inspired by Rick Taylor and his work in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. A community that was revitalized after Hurricane Katrina and the 2013 tornado. Taylor played an integral role in commemorating the community’s history after it was nearly wiped out due to natural disasters.

“There was a group from our economic development organization that traveled out to Hattiesburg in May and they were just viewing kind of the impacts of the area from Katrina and they left there feeling so inspired,” Andreasen said.

The public was also invited to be a part of the discussion. The county showed a presentation on the land’s past, current, and future use. The county says it’s important for residents to be a part of the planning process as the land’s history and future affects many people. Residents were able to bring forward questions, comments, concerns, and ideas.

“What’s happening out at Endeavor now is important to the City of Marianna and we’re landowners near there too so we’re interested in what’s going on,” said Chad Taylor, a resident of Marianna.

Those with local organizations agreed.

“It’ll actually give people a chance to know the history, embrace the history. The good, bad, and the ugly and heal from it as well,” said Ronstance Pittman, the President of the NAACP in Jackson County.

The county acquired the land from the State. Being that it is a large property, the county says repurposing the land can help the community economically. Utilizing the land can allow the building of residential housing and the creation of jobs.

As the county moves forward with deciding the land’s future use, they say preserving its history is a top priority.

Because the construction for the museum is still in the planning stages, the county does not have a timeline yet regarding when construction will begin or when the project is expected to be completed.

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