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Groundbreaking for Ross Station center


August 3, 2018

The Seaford Historical Society project that has been three years in the planning is moving forward.

In July Bev Hutton signed a contract for construction of the Ross Station, a visitor's center planned for the Ross Plantation.

The contract is with construction firm Gillis Gilkerson Inc., Salisbury. Groundbreaking was held on Tuesday, July 31. An optimistic forecast projected mid-January 2019 as the completion date.

Project manager and former historical society president Maria Heyssel is hoping for a grand opening in early spring.

Even with the contract signed, though, the society's fundraising continues.

The society is also raising money to match a second donation from Ross Claiborne, a resident of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and great-grandson of Gov. William Henry Harrison Ross, who built the Ross Mansion in 1859.

Two years ago, Claiborne gave a grant of $400,000 to the project, which the society has successfully matched. Recently, he donated another $50,000, "for contingencies and furnishings," Heyssel said. The society has to raise money to match that grant.

The center will be 6,364 square feet in size and will include a 3,650-square foot banquet room capable of seating 225 people. It is being constructed on a corner of the plantation near the intersection of North Market Street Extended and Venture Drive.

The historical society has raised more than $1.2 million for the project. That includes grants from the Longwood Foundation, the Welfare Foundation and the Crystal Foundation, as well as more than $150,000 in local donations.

In March, the city donated a couple of small parcels of land along Market Street Extended to the society, to be used for parking for the visitor's center. The city is also contributing $38,000 toward the cost of the parking lot. The balance of that cost will be paid from the state's Community Trust Fund ($142,000) and the county ($8,000).

The design of the center, by engineering firm George, Miles and Buhr, was paid for by an initial grant for $16,000 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Rural Development program.





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