WEST BATH (AP) – A retired engineer is pursuing a dream to build a butterfly-shaped museum devoted to wildflowers along the banks of the New Meadows River.

“I want this to be unique,” said Paul deWolfe Wade, 72, of Brunswick, who laid out to town officials last week his vision for The Museum of Maine Wildflowers.

Located on a 20-acre parcel, the 30,000-square-foot museum would feature wildflower art, displays, workshops and exhibits along with an observatory, lecture hall, coffee shop, wedding facility and kayak dock.

Wade informed David Williams, the town administrator, that such a facility might cost millions of dollars.

“I told him that the town is definitely open to talking to him further,” Williams said, while pointing out that Wade has not acquired the land or developed plans for the Planning Board to review. “I don’t see any reasons why a museum can not be built there.”

Two years ago, Wade came up with an idea to build a museum that would cater to his love of Maine wildflowers, but the Brunswick site he was eyeing proved unsuitable because of the presence of salt marshes.

A Bowdoin College graduate who grew up in Freeport, Wade worked as a wildflower wholesaler for a number of years. He envisioned the museum being devoted to environmental education and the causes of children.

Wade said he has financial support from his children and is seeking assistance through grants and other private funding sources.

“There’s no doubt that modern technology can build a building in the shape of a butterfly, but it’s going to cost a lot of money,” said landscape architect Carol Johnson, who has offered advice to Wade on the project. “I am not willing to say he can’t do it. I have seen stranger things happen.”

Wade is in the process of assembling a museum board of directors and he plans to spend the next two months meeting with potential donors. If all goes well, he will return to the West Bath Planning Board this summer with a final plan.

“I don’t have any doubts about my ability to raise the money,” said Wade, who estimates that the price tag could run as high as $30 million. “The project will get done.”

Former Bowdoin College President Leroy Greason, who has known Wade for several years, has agreed to serve as an honorary trustee of the museum.

“Paul has wonderful ideas, but I think he is a dreamer,” Greason said.



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