Ohr to Launch Campaign to Restore Oaks

When world-renowned architect Frank Gehry first looked at the site for the Ohr-O’Keefe Museum of Art on east beach, he envisioned shiny buildings nestled neatly among the grove of majestic oak trees. So construction began, and the idea of a museum “dancing with the trees” began to take shape.

Unfortunately, not long after construction began, Hurricane Katrina came along, decimating the Ohr-O’Keefe and destroying 18 of the 36 live oaks on the four-acre campus.

On Friday, as part of the United Way’s “Day of Caring,” the Ohr-O’Keefe will launch a Reviving the Oaks campaign, with the planting of five of the 18 oaks lost to Katrina in nearly the same locations as the lost trees.

About 20 volunteers from Mississippi Power Co. will be planting the five-foot oaks on Friday between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. at the Ohr-O’Keefe campus. The volunteers are part of Mississippi Power’s Community Connection, the company’s employee-based service organization.

“This is another milestone for the museum and the community,” said Kevin O’Brien, director of the museum. “We’ve worked with Frank Gehry on the placement of these trees, which is very close to where they were before the storm, and we’re delighted to have Mississippi Power and the National Audubon Society helping us in this worthy cause. It’s another step in enhancing the allure of this campus, and, at the same time, restoring some of the many trees that have been lost to natural disasters and man-made encroachment.”

Want to get involved? The Ohr O’Keefe Museum of Art is accepting sponsors for 13 more oaks. If you’re interested in being a sponsor –cost is $100, which pays for a five-foot oak and a commemorative plaque – contact Ohr assistant director Carol Messer at 228-374-5547 or at assistantdirector@georgeohr.org.

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