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Volume CXXXIII, Number 17
March 5, 2004

Alumnus plans flower museum

As an expression of his desire to share his love and knowledge of wildflowers, Paul Wade '54 is working to open the Museum of Maine Wildflowers on Bath Road. Wade hopes to begin construction in 2005.

"I have two goals for this museum," Wade said. "I want the museum to be an experience, to go beyond the idea of a 'pleasant trip.' Also, I want to personally teach museum visitors about having a happy career raising, cutting, delivering, and picking wildflowers. I want people interested in flowers to be able to learn from me."

Wade envisions the museum with a kayak dock, a lecture hall, an observatory, a library, a complete wedding facility, trails through the woods, and an acre of hydrangeas, a flower that he said is "one of the best flowers that I've ever worked with in my life." Exhibit halls will contain different displays ranging from pine cones and moss to flowers found in bogs to some of the rarer types of flowers found in Maine.

The museum "will be geared toward children and families," Wade said. He added that the museum will be open 24 hours a day in the summer "so someone can get married at midnight in the moonlight at the museum."

From now until the museum opens, Wade will be working on a scale model that he wants to put on display in a store window in the town of Brunswick. He said he was eager to involve the community in this project. "I don't want to build the diorama all by myself, I want the people of Maine to help build the diorama," he said.

Currently, Wade is working to sign ownership papers in order to obtain a plot of land. He wants to build the museum on a 17-acre plot on Bath Road across from the New Meadows Inn. Once the museum is up and running, he envisions employing students from Bowdoin as well as year-round workers.

During the years before he started work on the museum, Wade started three flower companies and exported flowers from Maine to other parts of the east coast. He is attempting to transfer ownership of the three companies, which are currently not operating, to former employees.

"I want the employees to own the companies for no charge and operate them as a year-round business," he said. "I am immersed in a national project to have a museum in Maine called the Museum of Maine Wildflowers."

Wade said he wants to have some branch of the flower companies open on the museum site and use the profits to help pay for the museum, which will be a non-profit organization.

Wade was first exposed to the concept of flowers as a lifestyle through his second wife, who did professional flower arrangements. Shortly after her death, he was paralyzed for two years from Lyme disease. During his recovery, he decided that he wanted to change his career path from a hydraulic engineer. "I loved to be outdoors and I loved working with wildflowers, so I decided I wanted to do that for a living," he said. "All I need to be happy are clippers, rubber boots, and a cup of coffee."

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