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Mullins plans museum of industry in Rockland

Sep 21, 2020
Photo by: Stephen Betts Michael Mullins stands in front of 25 Rankin St. in Rockland.

Rockland — Entrepreneur Michael Mullins of Rockland announced Sept. 21 he purchased a property on Rankin Street that he will develop into the Maine Museum of Industry.

Mullins announced the move in a news release and news conference Monday morning.

The museum will be located at 25 Rankin St. which most recently was the Rockland Antiques Marketplace and earlier was Matthews windows, and before that Miller's Garage.

Mullins acquired the property Thursday, Sept. 17, from Edward Miller for $165,000. The building has been vacant since August.

The selection of the property follows one year of research and consideration of multiple locations for the new museum, Mullins said.

The museum will include exhibits on major industries that have shaped Maine’s towns, cities and rural landscape, he said. A welcome center to be constructed in 2020 to be followed by professionally designed exhibits.

The exhibits will carry visitors from the first industries of Maine to those of the present, in chronological order, beginning with trading and manufactures of Native American peoples; trapping and commercial fishing by European settlers; cobblestones and granite; the timber industry, farming (hay, blueberries and staples), and later on shipbuilding and ocean transportation, ground transportation, the lime industry, the ice industry and textiles; all the way up to the paper industry, tourism, artwork and modern industries like aquaculture (e.g. oysters, salmon and seaweed) and renewable energy.

The Museum’s exhibits will be built out over a period of five years in collaboration with Maine-based companies and in partnership with local historic societies and private museums.

Mullins said a key feature of the museum will be a room on the lime industry, with artifacts from the Rockland & Rockport Lime Company donated by David Hoch, former president of R&R, as it is known.

The 25 Rankin St. building is in a state of modest disrepair, Mullins said, and has a history of environmental contamination, including two prior actions by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection.

Mullins pointed out he has a background in historic preservation and intends to have the building added to the National Register of Historic Places, then conduct a complete historic rehabilitation to National Park Service Standards, utilizing both the Federal Historic Tax Credit and the Maine Historic Tax Credit.

Together, these two sources can provide funding for up to 45% of qualifying rehabilitation costs.

The renovation, including time for architectural study and applications for federal and state funding is expected to take two years. In the meantime, the building will be kept in operation and be leased to multiple tenants, including the museum’s welcome center.

The renovations are expected to cost between $500,000 and $750,000 and will include cleanup of any environmental conditions.

“I’m passionate about history and historic preservation, and this is a very exciting moment. There aren’t many surviving industrial buildings made of wood from the 1920s or earlier, and to be able to house a museum of industry in such a building is a special opportunity," he said.

He said Maine’s state historic tax credit program is one of the most progressive in the country and a wonderful resource to preserve buildings like Miller’s Garage.

"Without it, many landmark historic buildings would be lost. My grandfather was a hunting and fishing guide, and also a mason. My great grandfather ran a timber camp in the north woods, where my grandmother Evelyn Soucy worked as a clerk. This is very much a personal mission to preserve the story of Maine’s industrial history that my family has played a part in.

"People sometimes think of industry as something that happens ‘somewhere else’ in a factory. However, the landscape of Maine, from the islands to the quarries, and from the logging camps to the paper mills was very much shaped by the generations of industries, and will be shaped further by new industries to come. It is my hope that this museum will provide an interesting learning opportunity for children and adults alike to understand how Maine’s past has shaped present and future,” he concluded.

Mullins said the property will be taxable.

Mullins is a resident of Rockland. He is the owner and manager of Cranesport Garage, a business incubator in Camden. In 2015, Mullins purchased and restored the former Crockett's Quarry across Maverick Street from the Rockland Golf Club.

In 2017, he gained local publicity for a proposal to buy and convert the MET building in Camden into a maker space, a shared multidisciplinary workshop with programming for adults and children. Mullins is on the Board of Directors of Mullins Management, a Boston based developer engaged in mixed income housing and historic preservation.

He is the Republican candidate for the Maine Legislature for House District 93 that represents Rockland and Owls Head.

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Comments (20)
Posted by: Michael Mullins | Sep 25, 2020 16:22

The museum will be a non-profit tenant in a mixed-use commercial building. -MM

Posted by: ANANUR FORMA | Sep 25, 2020 08:17

would this museum be classified as a "non-profit?"

Posted by: Michael Mullins | Sep 24, 2020 22:01

Hi Stephen, I welcome your questions, because well, people should ask questions.  I tend to get excited about projects that I think hit on multiple levels - they create or enhance a public good; they serve a social purpose; and they help people.  The old quarry I see as a positive because it was the cleanup of a former industrial site that eliminated hazards and improved the environment (a public good).  For the Camden MET project, it was a chance to preserve a historic building (the public good); enhance the entrepreneurial [maker] economy; and provide educational opportunities [lateral learning].  For the Museum of Industry, a chance to save a piece of history in the form of both the building and the exhibits (the public good); provide a means for the collaboration of industry and historians (social purpose); and an educational initiative.  I do think that history museums are educational.  The side benefit is that these projects bring investment to the community.  Are these the best ideas?  Well I believe there is a marketplace for ideas.  The Camden-Rockport school board thought the better idea was to make the building an administrative office and Zenith, and I support that.  For the Quarry and the Museum, they were both on the market for years.  Maybe no one had a better idea, or perhaps they were just passed over, I don't know.  But I like to take ideas and turn them into action.

Posted by: James Clinton Leach | Sep 23, 2020 21:57

Mike an idea, a dream comes to fruition happy for you, All the Best...

Posted by: Stephen K Carroll | Sep 23, 2020 08:31

I openly admit that I do not know the answer to these questions, but am willing to ask them through this forum of curiosity seekers.  Does Rockland and it's citizens want or need another museum ?  Are we better off because a wealthy individual spent thousands of dollars pumping & cleaning a quarry that Mother nature will reclaim in a few years ?  Spending almost a million dollars to purchase & make improvements to an old garage in order to showcase our industrial history so other rich people can be amused and buy a t-shirt ?  Many of our citizens are struggling just to to make a living.  Our food banks are overflowing, homelessness is on the rise and taxes are forcing senior citizens out of their homes.  And why is it that so many rich people think they alone know what's best for us all ?  I don't know the answers, am just curious why so many willingly buy in and don't question ?

Posted by: Crawford L Robinson | Sep 22, 2020 18:45

Hi Michael. I didn't know that quarry was worked up as far as 1958. I have always noticed the unusual greenish pigment the water seemed to have. I guess the clay would explain that.

Posted by: Michael Mullins | Sep 22, 2020 17:36

Hi Crawford, probably not so many.  This quarry, Crockett's quarry as it was known, is unusual because the whole eastern bank is made out of soft material.  They had to chase the limerock underground on that side and in doing so exposed about 10 feet of marine clay.  And so anytime the pond wasn't frozen, wind action would work against a one-foot tall erosion zone and that's why the water was so cloudy.  If you saw pictures of the drawdown, the bottom, about 4.2 acres, was covered with a foot of clay and organic matter that had been deposited since 1958 when the Quarry stopped and it filled up.  So while it required pumping a lot of water out as I say, it was sending cloudy, clay filled water out for almost 60 years.  Probably for the amount of clay material we found on the bottom, four acre-feet, a similar amount went down the brook system over that period.

Posted by: Crawford L Robinson | Sep 22, 2020 12:57

Hi Michael. I have been both walking and driving by the quarry for at least 50 years. I never realized there was an erosion concern with it that badly needed attention. I never saw the brook so full to overflowing as when it was undergoing pumping. I wonder how many of our numerous other quarries badly need attention and may require pumping? That could help us remove more sediment from our other tributaries.

Posted by: Francis Mazzeo, Jr. | Sep 22, 2020 11:56

Hi MR Mullins, I feel no need to apologize for my thoughts but I will say you have made great improvements to our City.. The quarry on Cedar Street is beautiful as your other projects seem no doubt will be. I wish you the best on your house race. I don't want Paul LePage as governor again.

Posted by: Michael Mullins | Sep 22, 2020 11:36

Hi Crawford.   Jim Kalloch told me he thought the dredging was needed in part because of the dewatering.  You might check with him for more information.  Keep in mind, that quarry contains 21 million gallons of water, and while we drained it down 75%, it filled in about a year.  So that volume that passes from the quarry through the brook every year.  I think the point however is that the drawdown was a large volume over a shorter period, and may have flushed sedimentation from the brook system.  I think it probably did, but remember that sedimentation is not beneficial to stream; flushing it is probably a good thing for the health of the stream.  And while it may have accelerated sedimentation in the harbor in 2015, we will have less sedimentation going forward because we were able to perform erosion control in the quarry, which was badly needed


Posted by: Crawford L Robinson | Sep 22, 2020 10:06  I guess the pressing question I would have is what happened with the dredging and disposal of the waste material from the huge volume of Mr Mullins pumped quarry water which flushed material from Lindsey Brook into the harbor? I can't find much on it. Was it ever actually performed? Who paid for it?

Posted by: Doug Clayton | Sep 22, 2020 08:10

This project will be a wonderful addition to our region, facilitating education, supporting tourism, and conserving our architectural heritage. I look forward to bringing my children there.

Posted by: Peter Peno | Sep 22, 2020 07:54

This sounds like a great addition to Rockland; I will be interested to see more valuable history of the area preserved.

Forget parties everyone--vote for the person!

Mr Mullins, you have my vote.


Posted by: Valerie Wass | Sep 22, 2020 07:28

All politics aside, I thank Mr. Mullins for putting his investment into the city and not somewhere else.  This is such a welcoming idea.  To make sure that how Maine grew through out the years in industry is not lost forever.  This is so beneficial to all of us including the younger generations.  Thank you again Mr. Mullins. Looking forward to visiting it in the future.

Posted by: Richard McKusic, Sr. | Sep 22, 2020 04:38

My sincere apologies to Mr. Mullins. When the opportunity was there to be congratulatory I took the root of being negative. Personally, am not a Nancy Pelosi Democrat and don't care to be characterized as that yet went ahead and did the same thing.   Words can't be taken back once they are said. We all should have learned that lesson by now.  :(

Posted by: Lucinda Lang | Sep 21, 2020 22:00

Thank you Frank Mazzeo and Richard McKusic for speaking up...


Posted by: Michael Mullins | Sep 21, 2020 19:37

Hi Frank.  This is something along with a couple other things coming down the road that I have been working on for a while.   In fact I have a couple of projects that will not be seen in the press this year, I don't think, including one at 33 N. Main street.  But this acquisition has been in the works since spring, and I wanted very much to have my friend David Hoch, Sr. to be able to be a part of this moment because it's his part of his legacy to have led the company that ran the last kiln in the region.  And yes it is good timing!   Anyway, this museum will be built no matter what happens in November :)   -MM

Posted by: Sumner Kinney | Sep 21, 2020 16:04

This is such great news for the City of Rockland.  Preservation of Miller's Garage is GREAT NEWS for me.  My Dad worked there for 30 plus years and I knew about every square inch of that building.

Posted by: Richard McKusic, Sr. | Sep 21, 2020 14:53

I believe that Mt. Mullins is a sincere gentleman, yet there is no way I would vote Republican this year.  We can be very thankful that Governor Mills is running the show in Augusta and not Paul LePage; who plans on running again in 2022.

Posted by: Francis Mazzeo, Jr. | Sep 21, 2020 10:58

Not saying this is a bad idea but it comes from a candidate for office close to election time. Good timing.

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