Western Maine Play Museum board hopes for 2018 opening

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WILTON — The opening of the Western Maine Play Museum will likely stretch into the summer, Angela McLeod, board president, said.

After raising $350,000 to attain a $150,000 matching grant from the Sandy River Charitable Trust in late May, the board had hoped to complete Phase I with the $500,000 and open the main house by the end of 2017.

The first phase included construction of about 4,500 square feet of exhibit room in the main house. A second phase covers renovation of a carriage house or barn into a play village for nearly $200,000.

In August, the town and the museum board learned they would receive a North Border Regional Grant for $157,000, she said. The town was the main applicant because most of these federal-state partnership grants are awarded to municipalities for infrastructure projects, she said. 

The museum intends to do a water and sewer pipe upgrade from residential to commercial, and to begin a complete renovation of the 1,500-square-foot carriage house with the funding, she added.

Once they learned they would receive the NBR grant, there was a lot of paper work to do and things to consider. An architect was hired to help, she said. 

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“We have spent five months trying to figure out what we needed to do for the money,” McLeod said. “But now we are on the right track and construction should start back up in March and likely continue in to July. We will open as soon as possible.”

Instead of opening the main house and then doing construction on the carriage house, it seemed appropriate to complete both phases before opening, she said.

Many supporters have had opportunities to visit similar children’s museums around the state. The Wilton museum expects to also attract visitors from other communities.

“But this is primarily being built for local children who may not have the opportunity to go see something like this in another place,” McLeod said. It is one more tool in helping children overcome the circumstances of their lives, including poverty.

The opening will especially be rewarding for the many board members, supporters and volunteers who have worked to create the play museum.

“When it opens, this project will be five years old,” she said.

The nonprofit organization incorporated in 2013 with the intention of finding space and funding for a children’s play museum. The former home of Dr. Albert York and his family at 561 Main St., Wilton, was donated in 2014.

abryant@sunmediagroup.net

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The Western Maine Play Museum board and volunteers continue to renovate a Main Street home in Wilton for the museum. An opening is expected in the summer of 2018. (Ann Bryant/Franklin Journal)

The former home of Dr. Albert York on Main Street in Wilton was donated to the Western Maine Play Museum in 2014. (File photo)

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