Brunswick museum acquires former Navy base chapel

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BRUNSWICK — About a year after leasing space at the former U.S. Navy chapel at Brunswick Landing, the Brunswick Naval Museum and Memorial Gardens on Tuesday acquired the building.

The museum bought the property from the Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority for $220,000, museum President John Briley said in an interview Monday.

The building, which is approximately 50 years old, is at 179 Admiral Fitch Ave. The road is the main entry to the former Brunswick Naval Air Station from Old Bath Road in Brunswick, according to Briley.

“This will assure the preservation of the Friendship and Memorial Gardens,” according to a Dec. 23 museum press release. “It will allow the museum to expand beyond its current four rooms to provide abundant space to house exhibits, educational activities, a library and archives, meeting rooms, and storage.

“The museum will now be better able to tell the story of maritime airborne patrol and particularly document the activities and sacrifices of the tens of thousands of men and women who served, trained and flew out of NAS Brunswick,” the statement added. “It will preserve the naval heritage that helped make Brunswick what it was and what it is today.”

Although called a chapel, the approximately 13,600-square-foot building is more like a church, Briley said Monday: “It could probably hold 450, 500 people.”

The museum, which was founded seven years ago, has yet to announce any events for 2016. The main focus for now is bringing the building up to code. More exits, accessibility for the disabled, and a sprinkler system are among items required, Briley said.

While the museum’s members considered building a new headquarters, which could have made more financial sense, Briley said, the chapel “is in good shape,” and with new businesses moving to Brunswick Landing, “the chapel might likely be one of the few buildings left (that reflect) the way the base was.”

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

After about a year leasing space at the former U.S. Navy chapel at Brunswick Landing, the Brunswick Naval Museum and Memorial Gardens has purchased the building.

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.