What’s new at the Gulfport Museum of History


Open for less than a year, you might say the Gulfport Museum of History has a history of its own, but in the true spirit of the resiliency South Mississippi residents are known for, the museum is not only back up and running after a COVID shutdown, but the museum has added new chapters to its story through the lens of a veteran photographer who captured heart-wrenching historic moments on film.

Would you like to take a stroll down memory lane, branch out, and learn more about Gulfport’s deep-rooted history? The door is now open to do just that at the Old Railroad Depot building the city provided to house the Gulfport Museum of History.

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The museum has a story of its own. COVID forced it to shut down just eight days after its grand opening in March of this year. Gulfport Museum History President Betty Shaw said, “We opened a few weeks ago. We were open here the Sunday of Cruisin’ the Coast, and we had a nice attendance.”

Museum leaders did not stay idle during the temporary shutdown. In fact, they added an 9/11 exhibit and a Hurricane Katrina display by local photographer Gary Modick.”I did eleven months of photographing after the storm. I have some pre-Katrina and post-Katrina photos. It is a little bit of serendipity.”

A Vietnam veteran, Modick is no stranger to the battlefield. Armed with a camera, he captured moments on film before and after Katrina. History would come around full circle fifteen years later when a Cruisin’ visitor rolled into the museum and made a startling realization. “He spotted this photo. The gentleman was in the Indiana National Guard at this time when they wrote this sign. It was like de ja vu,” said Modick.

Also, on display, photos taken of things remaining after South Mississippi 9/11 survivor Pam Stennis managed to escape from one of the burning World Trade Centers on that fateful day and an article by News 25’s own Toni Miles as she recounted the event on the five-year anniversary of 9/11. History truly has a way of coming around full circle.

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Toni started at WXXV News 25 in December of 2013, just three months after the news was launched. She has served as Assignment Editor, anchored for nearly two years, worked as a reporter for several years and hosted Coastal Connections for more than four years. Toni graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of Southern Mississippi where she was editor of the Student Printz. She then did an internship on Capitol Hill, working for a U.S. Senator, then returned to Mississippi as a reporter at WDAM in Hattiesburg. After that, she moved to the Mississippi Gulf Coast, working as a reporter for FOX 25 in Biloxi, then crossing city lines to work at WLOX-TV news in Biloxi, starting out as a producer, then working as a photographer, reporter, weekend assignment editor and weekend anchor. She was among the station team that won the Edward Murrow and Peabody awards for coverage during Hurricane Katrina. Toni moved to the Lone Star State where she worked as the morning and noon anchor, investigative reporter and live shot reporter for KZTV Action 10 News, then KRIS TV News in Corpus Christi, Texas. Toni moved back to the Magnolia State to be with and take care of her family, working as a multi-media journalist and fill-in anchor at WDBD Fox 40 news in Jackson. After almost completing a second degree in filmmaking at the University of Southern Mississippi Gulf Coast, Toni transitioned back to news at News 25. Toni is blessed to have a wonderful support network of close family, friends and mentors, and she hopes to pay it forward. She has a three-legged chiweenie named Rocky Balboa because of his fighting spirit. She loves writing and has completed a novel that has been adapted into a screenplay, and has just finished another screenplay called "Delta Rose." She's currently working on a new legal thriller called "Fall From Grace." Stay tuned....