The Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad has released renderings of a 13,500 square-foot museum that would be the centerpiece of its new campus in Gray, which is expected to open in May 2017.

The $4.5 million red-and-green metal exterior building, designed by the Portland-based SMRT architectural firm, is designed in a Gilded Age style, according to the group’s executive director, Donnell Carroll of Gray.

The building, which will include administrative offices, event space, a library and archives, will also feature a full-scale replica of an early 20th century Randolph rail station just inside the main entrance. The structure will replicate Randolph Station, a final stop on the Kennebec Central Railroad, which once operated between Randolph and Togus.

“We tried to give it a railroad type of a look,” Carroll said. “As you walk into the building you’re going to walk into and see a replica of the Randolph Station.”

The museum will be one of six buildings on the campus, which could collectively cost as much as $12 million in total, Carroll said. Other buildings would include a 5,000-square-foot restoration and engine shop building for historic rail coach restoration work. The railroad also hopes to build a 12,500-square-foot barn with a 15-railcar storage capacity for out-of-service equipment. Other plans include a traditional railroad roundhouse with the capacity to store four to six locomotives, cabooses, rail cars and a fuel depot coal bin garage.

The campus will connect to a new operating narrow gauge railroad for tourists on the old Interurban rail bed paralleling Route 100. In April 2014, representatives of the Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad and Central Maine Power, which owns large stretches of the former Interurban line between Portland and Lewiston, completed a deed transfer, granting the railroad group ownership of a 50-foot-wide strip of rail bed, stretching nearly two miles from Yarmouth Road (Route 115) to Long Hill Road.

The railroad group plans to purchase several acres of land for the campus from Gray Plaza owner Dan Craffey, once a sufficient amount of funds have been secured, Carroll said. The campus would be located between the plaza and a golf driving range.

According to Carroll, the group, which is now based along the waterfront in Portland, has approached 30 potential funding sources about the $12 million project, although very little money has been raised so far. At the very least, Carroll expects the museum and the new railroad to be running by May 2017. As for the rest of the campus, that could take longer, depending on the success of the fundraising effort, he said.

“If we’re very fortunate and very successful in our fundraising we will try to do it in one phase,” he said. “Realistically we think this is going to be over a few years time.”

Craffey said he looks forward to the development of the Gray railroad campus.

“It’s probably going to be the nicest narrow gauge museum setup in the world,” Craffey said. “It’s really going to be great for the town of Gray and great for the state of Maine.”

“Take a look at it,” he added. “Holy mackerel.”

Leo Credit, president of the Gray-New Gloucester Development Corp., also praised the renderings.

“I love the design,” he said. “This is great. Certainly it has the rails right there on the front of the building so that tourists can get on and off the train. It has a lot of windows and glass and it has a lot of natural lighting.”

Credit, who has been trying to attract the railroad to Gray since 2010, said he thinks the campus could see large numbers of tourists when it opens.

“This would be a huge impact on the downtown economically,” he said. “The Maine Wildlife Park gets about 100,000 visitors a year, and I could easily see a nice dovetailed tourism impact between those that would visit the wildlife park and those that would also potentially go to the museum. This would make a huge economic impact on the downtown. I’m very excited.”

The Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad has released renderings of a new 13,500 square foot museum next to Gray Plaza. The $4.5 million museum is set to open in May 2017.  Courtesy imageSchematics of the new Narrow Gauge Railroad Museum show an entrance similar to a railroad depot in Randolph. Courtesy image

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