Wilmington, NC (WWAY) – The USO/Community Arts Center’s historic Hannah Block Center invites the public to join them at their open house on July 4.
The event will run from 1:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m. where staff will be dressed in 1940s costumes, complimentary coffee and cake from Burney’s Sweets & More and soft drinks at the World War II price of 5 cents. A documentary film celebrating the USO Building will be shown throughout the afternoon.
The lobby of the historic USO Hannah Block Building has been restored to its 1943 appearance with reproduced furnishings and World War II exhibits. Exhibits include memorials for Medal of Honor recipients Charles Murray and Billy Halliburton, a plaque for a building of the same name, Hannah Block, World War II memorabilia, honoring 9The tenth & Nixon USO, Giclee National World War II Memorial.
Documentary Home Away From Home – USO at 2second abbreviation and orange It will air throughout the afternoon of July 4th on Henna Block 2second abbreviation street stage. The 5-minute film was produced in 2016 by Emmy-nominated filmmaker Rob Hill to Honor 75The tenth Anniversary of the historic USO building. The film captures the building’s rich history starting with World War II, moving into a community center and how it continues to serve our community today.
A short concert featuring Voices, the Community Arts Center Choir, will take place at 3:00 p.m. in the building’s lobby. The choir was formed in 2020 at the start of the pandemic and is directed by Sylvia Johnson, independent Christian recording artist, songwriter, and producer. will perform the sounds Beautiful America, Elijah Rock, And the It doesn’t mean anything.
The Second and Orange Streets Club USO was set up by the Army Corps of Engineers at a cost of $80,000 and opened in December 1941. At the height of the war, attendance was 63,000 per month. Typical events included big band dances, plays, concerts, art exhibitions, hobby shows, guest lectures, weddings, and weekly radio broadcasts. On weekend nights, 600 men crowded into the basement dormitory.
After World War II, the building was purchased by the City of Wilmington for use by the Department of Recreation. In 1973, the building was renamed the Community Arts Center and placed on the National Register of Historic Places the following year. The Community Arts Center was rededicated as Hannah Block in 2006, in honor of one of Wilmington’s most prominent civic leaders and World War II veterans, and in 2016 it received a James Dee and Rosalie Carr memorial plaque from the Wilmington Historical Foundation.
Today, Hannah Block Historic USO/Community Arts Center is one of three Type A USO buildings still standing and serving as a major cultural resource for the residents of the area. The Thalian Society has operated the Wilmington City Building since 1994. Classes are offered in a variety of visual and performing arts disciplines and the building is home to Orange Street potters, the official North Carolina Azalea youth arts competition, Memorial Day Weekend Orange Street Artsfest, Presented and sold by the Wilmington Art Society.
On September 2, 2020, Wilmington became the first city in the country to be designated a World War II Heritage City by the United States Secretary of the Interior. The ranking celebrates Wilmington’s contributions to the World War II effort on the home front, and efforts to preserve and honor those contributions. The Battleship North Carolina Memorial and Historic USO Building Restoration are the basis for those efforts.
“Everyone is welcome to visit the historic USO Building on this very special holiday,” said Susan Habas, executive director of Thalian Community Theatre. Come learn about Wilmington’s history in WWII and enjoy free coffee and cake.