The Assembly Building, which houses the Topsail Island attraction, just underwent $150,000 in repairs
TOPSAIL BEACH -- The Missiles and More Museum on Topsail Island reopened on May 22 after the Assembly Building, which is where the museum is housed, underwent $150,000 worth of repairs.
According to Edna Smith, president of the Historical Society of Topsail Island, the repairs began in September and included complex and structural repairs to the building’s roof truss system. The historical society, which operates the Assembly Building, realized repairs were needed after an inspection uncovered severe termite damage. Butch Parish, a member of the society's board of directors, was the project manager for the repairs and enlisted the help of engineers who had experience with the type of construction needed for the building.
Steve Smith, a member of the society's board of directors, said there are only a few buildings with the kind of ceiling system similar to the Assembly Building, and they were built in the 1940s.
“It’s very unique,” he said. “So we were looking for people that had experience in that type of construction."
Edna Smith, president of the historical society, said they didn’t want to compromise the integrity of the aesthetics of the buildings, but the structural integrity also was important.
The building was constructed in 1946 and was used by the Navy to assemble missiles for a secret operation on Topsail Island -- Operation Bumblebee. The Pender County barrier island was chosen as the site for Operation Bumblebee because of its proximity to to Camp Davis in nearby Holly Ridge. The goal of the operation was to develop a new kind of surface-to-air missile because the military knew it was only a matter of time before it was involved in another conflict.
The Assembly Building now includes an events center and the museum, which drew almost 10,000 visitors last year.
Edna Smith said the restoration was possible through funds from Autumn with Topsail, which is a music and arts festival, bingo events, building rentals, memberships and donations to the museum, which doesn't charge an admission fee.
She said the restoration was an expensive process, and she is going to different organizations and asking people to join the historical society.
Reporter Bailey Aldridge can be reached at 910-343-2310 or Baldridge@StarNewsOnline.com.