JACKSONVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) — The Swansboro Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday met with organizers of the upcoming Carolina Museum of the Marine in Jacksonville to learn more about their plans. 

The Lejeune Memorial Gardens is the future site for the 25,000-square-foot museum. Organizers said the project has been in the works for over 20 years. With the plan to break ground next spring, the mission is to honor, preserve and teach the history of Carolina Marines and Sailors who came through the area.

“Prior to World War II, with war clouds on the horizon, they needed a place to train for amphibious operations to be able to go fight in the Pacific,” said CEO of the museum, Kevin Stewart. “They chose Camp Lejeune, and those Marines trained here, deployed from here, won the war, and put our nation on just this, you know, great path that it’s on.”

Stewart said they plan to highlight the individual stories from World War II, Vietnam, and Beirut to now.

“I grew up either as a dependent or serving in the Marine Corps, my whole life, my family, you know, grew up, moving and serving and sacrificing and so to be involved in this is deeply personal,” he said.

He said they are going to use historical artifacts from over the years and modern-day technology to give visitors an immersive experience into the evolution of the Marine Corps.

“We have an LVT, one of the amphibious track vehicles used to train Marines here in Camp Lejeune. We have this old bus that was used when Lejeune was first being built, that moved workers around the different locations, moved Marines around,” said Stewart. 

With the stamp of approval from the military and $26 million from the state, the project is moving forward.

“It’s not if it’s going to happen, it’s happening,” he said. “That support from the local community and the surrounding communities is more important now than ever.”

He added that they hope to have the facility open by the spring of 2026.