ROCKLAND, Maine ― A local quarry owner plans to turn the former Rockland Antiques Marketplace into the Maine Museum of Industry, which will tell the history of prominent state industries such as fur trading, fishing, shipbuilding and logging.
“Maine is very much shaped by its industries,” said Michael Mullins, a real estate developer who owns the city’s last operating quarry on Cedar Street. “It will help people understand why Maine looks the way it does.”
Mullins purchased the 10,000-square-foot 1920’s warehouse on Rankin Street for $165,000, and said he plans to invest between $500,000 and $700,000 to historically restore it and convert it into a museum. The site once housed a Chrysler-Plymouth dealership.
While Maine has multiple museums dedicated to specific industries, this would be the first in the state to highlight various industries under one roof.
Mullins plans to set up the museum to tell the history of Maine’s industries chronologically through placards, visuals and audio exhibits, starting with the making of wares by the state’s indigenous people, then moving onto fur trading, fishing and shipbuilding.
“Many other places have a single industry that spurred their development, but Maine has so many,” he said.
Mullins’ interest in local industry was first piqued when he purchased his expansive Cedar Street lime quarry. Through his restoration of it, he met David Hoch, who was the last president of the local limestone company. Hoch is one of the last living people in Rockland with firsthand accounts of the industry that gave the city its name.
While Mullins doesn’t have experience in creating a museum from scratch, he said he will work with professionals to research and develop the project.
He said the museum could open its first exhibit as early as next year, once restoration on the Rankin Street building is complete.