Bath planners OK new building at Maine Maritime Museum

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BATH — The Planning Board unanimously approved a site plan Tuesday for a new shelter and exhibition building on Maine Maritime Museum’s Washington Street campus.

The 2,100-square-foot building, called the Kramer Blacksmith Shop Exhibit, will serve as an evocation of a 1914 structure that sat on the Percy & Small shipbuilding site, now preserved as part of the museum’s campus, according to museum Executive Director Amy Lent. The building will sit east of the museum’s Paint & Treenail Shop.

The original shop was torn down in 1939, and helped supply metal used in constructing the shipyard’s large wooden schooners, Lent said. For example, the Wyoming – an evocation of which stands on the museum’s Kennebec River shore – had fastenings, fittings and strapping composed of 300 tons of iron, according to Lent.

“So there was much excitement when, in 2009, the museum received a generous bequest from former Trustee Kenneth D. Kramer to construct a Blacksmith Shop exhibit on the site of the original building, completing the shipbuilding story,” she said in a museum newsletter.

Lent noted that the new structure will not serve as an historical recreation of the original building, so that the integrity of the shipyard’s intact buildings can be preserved.

“Instead, the proportions, dimensions and materials used will evoke the original building and its purpose, while clearly being a contemporary building,” she explained. “The structure will house exhibits related to the blacksmith operation that transpired there while also providing a gathering place for tour groups and visitors. On occasion it will house demonstrations of the blacksmith process.”

Theodore + Theodore, an Arrowsic architecture firm, is designing the structure, while Zachau Construction of Freeport will build it. Lent said the exhibit is expected to open in mid July.

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or alear@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

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Trolley tours suspended at Bath Iron Works

BATH — Maine Maritime Museum’s trolley tours of the nearby Bath Iron Works shipyard will be suspended this summer.

“The decision to halt the tours was made by BIW officials because of the concerns for visitor safety and shipyard security during what will be a highly demanding period of activity in the yard during the upcoming year,” a museum press release stated last week.

Construction of a more than 51,000-square-foot outfitting building is set to begin, while various older BIW buildings will be demolished and replaced, and other facilities will be upgraded, according to the museum. Work on four ships will also be taking place.

– Alex Lear

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A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.