Western Maine Play Museum goal continues

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WILTON — Western Maine Play Museum board members and volunteers have raised over $90,000 in pledges, cash donations and in-kind support for the children’s museum.

“We’ve had a lot of support and want to keep the project rolling,” said Angela McLeod, board president. “We’re proud of what we’ve accomplished in five months of fundraising.”

A first fundraising appeal of 3,000 letters will soon be sent out to households across Franklin County. The group is also in the process of grant writing and seeking major donors to reach the $500,000 needed for renovation of the Main Street home.

“We’re hopeful and optimistic we can open before the end of 2015,” she said. “But most of the renovation is on hold until we raise enough money.”

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The nonprofit organization incorporated in 2013 with the intent to find 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 March.

The building is commonly referred to as the York House, McLeod previously said. The house was last lived in by York’s daughters, Mary and Ruth, locally known as “the sisters.” They never married and remained in the home throughout their lives until their deaths a few years ago at ages 95 and 96.

The house needs renovation. The project is anticipated to take six months and cost more than $500,000.

So far, volunteers have done “no or little-cost things,” she said.

Demolition work inside the house, clearing out the backyard to Wilson Stream and demolition of a building next to the home have been accomplished, she said.

A variety of community members, individuals, businesses and school groups have stepped forward to support the goal, Lori Lewis, board member, said in a release.

“One of the most memorable gifts we received involved an elderly woman who, beaming, handed to one of our board members two crumpled $5 bills, an amount which was clearly a very large donation for her,” Lewis said. “That kind of generosity is inspiring. Every donation is important to our success.”

There have been larger donations, including $25,000 for a Train Room, given by Betty and Mark Shibles and the Colley family. Many individuals have become $1,000-plus donors and will have their names listed on a permanent plaque inside the museum, she said.

Recent performances by the String Beings, a Celtic harp group, the Franklin County Fiddlers and the Teachers Lounge Mafia have raised more than $1,700.

Barclay’s of Wilton has matched $10,500 of raised funds, and Jeff Chaisson of Expenet in Wilton has donated 1 percent of company profits to the museum, Lewis said.

Even school children want to become donors. Fourth-graders at Academy Hill School want to donate their profits from their annual Business/Education Partnership with Hannaford Brothers.

Along with responding to the letter appeal, other ways Lewis suggested helping includes a donation made on items purchased through AmazonSmile, she said.  The company will donate .5 percent of an eligible purchase to a charitable organization of the buyer’s choice.

“Just go online to smile.amazon.com and designate Western Maine Play Museum as the recipient you wish to receive these funds,” she said of purchases made there.

The play museum’s website also offers suggestions, including gift ideas. One such idea is the purchase of a courtyard brick for $100 or $250, depending on size, which may be engraved to honor a child, grandchild or pet.

Donations may be made through the website at www.westernmaineplay.org or checks mailed to WMPM, P.O. Box 1161, Wilton, ME 04294.

abryant@sunjournal.com

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