OCHLOCKNEE — Pope's Store Museum is moving ahead with the next phase of a planned restoration project after receiving a sizable donation last week.

Members of the community donated $3,500 to the museum last week, said Michelle Dean, museum executive director. Those donations proved to be enough to begin restoration efforts on the 100-foot World War II memorial wall, constructed by folk artist Laura Pope Forester in 1947.

Efforts to clean and seal the wall began Monday morning. The work is expected to be completed later this week.

More than half of the wall will be restored by the time work is completed. To finish the rest of the memorial, Dean estimated the museum would need an additional $1,500 in contributions.

To reach that goal, the museum will host an open house event on Saturday, Dec. 14 from 6-9 p.m. Money will be raised through $20 donations per each vehicle.

"From that, we believe we'll make enough money to get the rest of it sealed," Dean said.

Located on the north side of the property near Pope Store Road, the WWII memorial is one of the best-known and prominent structures on the historic museum grounds. The west face of the memorial features marble slabs of Grady County residents who died in the Second World War. The east face of the memorial features prominent national heroes of the war, including generals Douglas MacArthur and Dwight Eisenhower and a commemoration of the Allied invasion of Normandy.

Pope's Museum has been in a race against time to restore the aging memorial as it has been slowly disintegrated by living organisms.

Once work on the memorial is completed, Dean said the museum's main focus will be on restoring a memorial for Gold Star mothers, which Pope constructed in the 1940s.

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