originally published in Avenue magazine, June 2005
By Joel Mangum
TOPSAIL BEACH – After doubling in size, adding new exhibits and updating old ones, the Missiles and More Assembly Museum at Topsail Beach re-opened April 6th at 2 p.m. to visitors after months of renovations to enhance the museum and add more space.
Contributors and volunteers made the $200,000 expansion possible, Topsail Island Historical Society President Jaxie Thornton said.
“We are so proud of the contributor’s board as well as the 355 contributors,” Thornton said as she pointed to a plaque with the names of contributors. “People have been so generous and we want to recognize them for that.”
Thornton recognized Fundraising Chairman Zander Guy, Expansion Chairman Butch Parrish, General Contractor Ed Broadhurst, and Construction Contractor Dutch Bageant among those involved in the expansion.
Topsail Island Historical Society Vice President Becky Neely noted it was gratifying to see the work of everyone involved in the project come together.
“It’s been well worth it and so much teamwork and effort has been put in by those involved,” Neely said.
The Missiles and More Museum is dedicated to preserving the rich history of Topsail Island. That history includes the testing of the ram-jet engine during Operation Bumble Bee by the US Department of Defense and John Hopkins University. Other exhibits at the museum feature displays about Camp Davis, a large training facility for troops in Holly Ridge during World War II. Other history included at the museum is Native Americans and pirates who once roamed Topsail Island.
The expansion and renovation also includes some interactive video displays, two interactive exhibits for kids called “The Bird Watch Matching Game” and the “Lead the Baby Sea Turtle to Safety”, as well as numerous photos, artifacts and documents about Camp Davis, the Bumblebee Operation, and weather and social history of the island.
Becky Childs, who recently moved from Annapolis, Maryland to Sneads Ferry, said she was learning about the island and its’ history for the first time on Monday.
“I had heard about the museum and being new to the area, I wanted to come and learn about the town, the history behind it,” Childs said.
Carol Schuier, of Conyers, Georgia, has been vacationing at Topsail Island for 20 years and was at the museum with four boy scouts on spring break at the reopening. She was impressed with the expansion.
“It’s fantastic, ya’ll have something to be proud of here,” remarked Schuier.
The Missiles and More Museum from 2 to 4 p.m. on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday and is located at 720 Channel Blvd in Topsail Beach.
For details or questions call the museum at 910-328-8663 or the Historical Society at 910-329-4446, or go to their website.