Lynn Meadows Discovery Center, Mississippi's only children's museum when it opened in 1998, is nestled among ancient oaks in a vintage 1915 building that began as Mississippi City School. The neighborhood was eventually incorporated by Gulfport and the school became obsolete.
   The center is a favorite for kids of all ages, with interactive exhibits, storytelling, holiday celebrations and special programs, including music and theater. A butterfly garden and other outdoor creations beckoned.
   A five-foot surge from Hurricane Katrina swept through the first floor of the school, but the second floor is usable as the staff rebuilds.
   "Part of the frame fell into itself, so we were able to save all the bricks and windows on the damaged part," said director Betsy Grant. "From a historic preservation, it'll be like putting Humpty Dumpty back together again, but we can do it.
   "We found most of the large exhibit pieces, like the shrimp boat and the house in the toddlers' area. The tree houses are damaged but not destroyed. The classroom building, however, didn't make it."
   Some University of Mississippi students, faculty and administrators have adopted the center and will soon be down to help. The nonprofit center, which survives on donations and memberships, is named after a Gulfport woman who died in a car crash while a freshman at Ole Miss.
   "As to when we'll reopen, we don't have that crystal ball," Grant said, "but as long as we're making forward progress, that is a good thing."