The renovation has been going on for three years due to the building's historic and artistic significance, said Johnnie Bernhard, the city's public relations administrative officer.
"The Board of Aldermen and I have made these renovations a priority, given the importance of the Anderson murals, our greatest cultural asset in Ocean Springs," Mayor Connie Moran said.
The community center has been listed as a Mississippi Landmark since 1990.
"It was built in 1950 and painted by Walter Anderson in 1951," said Robert Ladnier, director of the city's rental facilities.
Anderson designed the 2,500-square-foot murals to represent the history of Ocean Springs, depicting the Native American culture and the landing of the French explorers in 1699. Ladnier said the city commissioned Anderson to paint the murals for $1.
"The legend is that he never even cashed the check," Moran said. "The murals are now valued at nearly $30 million."
To ensure the protection of the murals, art conservator Patricia Kamm was chosen to help oversee the project.
"She will be providing a protective scrim over the murals during construction," said local architect Dennis Cowart, who has been involved with the community center's renovation from the start.
Kamm will be in charge of restoring the murals, Cowart said.
City officials have also worked with the Walter Anderson Board of Trustees and Mississippi Department of Archives amp& History on the project, Bernhard said.
According to MDAH, properties designated as Mississippi Landmarks are protected against changes that may alter their historic character, and MDAH must approve all changes.
The upcoming work, in addition to repair and conservation of the murals, involves renovated restrooms, a new air-conditioning system, a new security system, sprinklers, a glass railing and new lighting.
"The cost of this phase is $350,000," Bernhard said.
The renovation project has been funded by nearly $500,000 in grants, including the National Park Service's Save America's Treasures grant and funding from MDAH.
The work is scheduled to begin in November, with completion set for May, Bernhard said. Earlier work comprised exterior painting and sealant, drainage, and installation of storm windows.
The Walter Anderson Museum of Art, which is adjacent to the community center on Washington Avenue, will be undergoing a $700,000 expansion scheduled to begin by the end of the year, said Linda Bloom, the museum's executive director.
An entry pavilion and space for more galleries on the south side will be added. The project will be funded by a federal grant, Bloom said.
The Mary C. O'Keefe Cultural Center on Government Street is in the midst of repairs, funded by an MDAH grant and Community Development Block Grant money to its exterior and roof.