Lumber Exhibit Ready At Museum

This appeared in The Neshoba Democrat - May 13, 2009

The Philadelphia-Neshoba County Museum will host an open house later this month to showcase its recently completed lumber and industry room.

The open house, at 303 Water Ave., will be from 2 to 4 p.m. on May 31. The public is invited.

Exhibits in the room feature such industries as Wells-Lamont, the first public supported industry after World War II and the first large scale employer of women here.

Neshoba County became one of the first in the state to solicit other industries under the Balance Agriculture with Industry program. In 1944, Philadelphia voted overwhelmingly to underwrite industrial bonds, supporting the glove factory, which opened here in 1946.

Over the next 40 years, several more factories re-located here, including, among others, U. S. Electrical Motors, Garan and the Richardson Company.

The logging and lumbering exhibit features three large sawmills: Deemer, DeWeese and Molpus.

Early sawmills supplied only the local market. With completion of the railroad in 1905, shipping became economical, allowing this area to participate in Mississippi's phenomenal timber boom.

Within 20 years, the three large sawmills were started here. They prospered, initially, survived the depressed markets of the 1930s, and rebounded with the post World War II building boom, sustaining long-term employment in harvesting and manufacturing, according to the exhibit.

In 1917, Deemer Lumber Company and 38,000 acres were sold to a group called New Deemer. In 1924 it was sold to Adams-Newell Lumber Company, which sold it to Reynolds Lumber Company in 1933.

After managing the liquidation of Reynolds Lumber, manager W. D. Myers purchased what was left of the mill and town site. He salvaged machinery, built a new sawmill and started a new era for Deemer, which continued with Bill Fulton, until 1970.

The first pine plywood plant in Mississippi was built by DeWeese Lumber Co. and opened in 1964 to great fanfare. Soon after this success, the entire lumber and plywood operation was sold to a national corporation, Weyerhaeuser.

Destroyed by fire in 1963, Molpus Lumber Co. was rebuilt with community support. It repaid its debt, rebuilt the mill at Philadelphia and in 1974, built a technologically advanced mill at Morton. Following the trend, another national corporation, Louisiana-Pacific Lumber Company, purchased the Molpus operations.

In addition to the lumber and industry room, visitors to the museum can also tour the Sunday best room and well as one dedicated to transportation and commerce.

Later this summer, the Marty Stuart room will be completed and dedicated. The museum's agricultural annex will also open for tours on May 31. It features early household items along with a wagon and other agricultural items.

For more information call the museum at 601-656-1284.

By Debbie Burt Myers

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