Franklin Countys First News

Letter to the Editor: Children’s museum needs final funding gap help

Dear Community Members,

If you have been through Main Street in Wilton lately then you may have noticed a lot of change going on in the building known as “The York House” which will hopefully soon be housing Western Maine’s only children’s museum.

This has been an exciting time for the organizers, donors, and supporters of Western Maine Play Museum that have spent almost three years working towards the realization of this goal. Many hands do make lighter work, but considering the size and scope of this project it has still taken an enormous amount of will, time, and energy on the part of many community members to see this project come so far.

If you have been a part of this, through donations or volunteerism, then we send you a big thank you. It’s a wonderful thing to be a part of a community that wants to invest in children and families.

It hasn’t all been sunshine and rainbows along the way. We’ve had our share of naysayers and detractors, but in all fairness the folks that started this project were brimming with excitement but short on actual knowledge. There is no template for doing such a thing and everyone involved has worked on the start-up of exactly one museum: this one.

The critics did us some good in that they toughened us up and made us work extra hard, because there is nothing more satisfying than doing more than people think you can. This is a handy parallel for what we think this museum will mean to many local children. Some of these kids might not have families and loved ones that have built them a template for success. They might not have a clear and positive path to follow. Some of these kids are being told, directly and indirectly, that the world doesn’t expect much from them.

The regular folks that have worked very hard to make this museum happen stand as a reminder that anything is possible when people care and dare to try new things. There are many paths to success and this museum will be another tool in our local toolbox of “good things” that for some kids will make all of the difference. And for the kids that already have many good things in their lives and an already clear path ahead of them: they’ll still have a blast visiting the museum and won’t even realize the amount of learning we’re sneaking into all of that play.

I am writing this letter now because we are so close in realizing this dream and hoping that other businesses and donors will step forward to close the gap and open our doors.

We are approximately $70,000 away from meeting our reconstruction goal of $500,000. We’re currently spending money awarded by foundations to improve the façade, but without filling the remaining gap we cannot finish the interior and build an addition in the back which is needed for fire safety and for a lift to make the building accessible to everyone that visits. We still have many opportunities for donors and businesses to purchase legacy naming rights in the museum and are happy to accept materials/labor in lieu of direct cash contributions.

Talk to us! Let’s figure something out and make it happen!

Angela McLeod
Western Maine Play Museum president

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3 Responses »

  1. You do not have to be a lottery winner to help close this remaining funding gap. Every donation matters. No gift is too small (or too big!) Yes, $70K is a lot of money -- but it's a whale of a lot less than the $500K which was our initial reconstruction goal! We've come very far - and we are confident that with your help we'll be able to complete the building renovation. Fundraising will continue to raise the additional $200K needed for exhibit construction-- but we are so close! With your help, we can do it! Thank you to the many community people who have been so generous already.

  2. Wonderfully put, Angela. What is the contact information? Do you sell nameplates for the bricks (or engrave bricks) at the entrance? Thank you for your work, wonderful explanation and reminder!

  3. PeaceJusticeHope -- I'll reply for Angela, since I know she is busy this weekend.
    Contact info for the museum: our website is Or you can contact me at 645-3945 or Brick orders have closed for now (we had to place the order some months ago so we'd have them delivered in time to install them later this summer) It's quite likely we will sell engraved bricks again in the future-- they were very popular. Thanks for your interest!