Glass museum moving to Naples?

By Dawn De Busk

Staff Writer

NAPLES — As clearly as glass catches the light, town officials agreed that an antique bottle museum would be great asset to the Naples Village Green. However, it will take time to shape that concept into reality.

A local entrepreneur, Walt Bannon, who owns the Maine Antique Bottle and Glass Museum in Bridgton, has his vision set on a historical building located in the town’s village green.

After his presentation, members of the Naples Board of Selectmen made it clear they were interested, and told Bannon to come back with a solid business proposal.

Each of the three selectmen, who were present at a meeting held the day after Christmas, gave their quick opinion and an invitation back.

“That type of business would be complementary to what we have built. Definitely, we are interested,” Selectman Rick Paraschak said.

“But, we have to go through the right channels first,” he said.

Paraschak was referring to running the idea by the Naples Properties Committee, which is not scheduled to meet again until mid-January.

“It is safe to say, we’d be interested,” Selectman Dana Watson said.

Then, Selectman Bob Caron Sr. suggested, “It would be nice to bring us a business proposal.”

Bannon appeared before the board to ask about renting the larger of two historical structures on the Village Green. A donor is willing to pay for three years of operating expenses for the venture, he said, but that person would like to know whether or not such a deal would be feasible.

“I’ve had my eye on Naples for awhile. There are some nice, select buildings,” Bannon said.

“It would handshake well with the new museum,” he said. The Bridgton museum drew people from at least 20 different communities, who drove there specifically for the genre of the facility.

“Most of the visitors had pretty good comments,” he said.

When the Jones Museum in Sebago closed, Bannon “was able to procure educational supplies and glass cases,” he said.

Selectman Dana Watson asked if Bannon planned for the museum to be open year round, or just during the summer.

“I would like to be open one or two days a week during the winter, so school kids could go through there, go through the library,” he said.

Vice Chair Rick Paraschak told him there was a concern about the cost of heat since the building in not well-insulated.

Watson expressed the same concerns.

“I figured I would cover the costs,” Bannon said, such as insurance, heating, electricity bills, and advertising — all of which would be separate from the donation.

“I would maintain and repair the building, and save the town funds. A gentleman has donated funds to see another glass museum in the place.

He was hoping I could get a three-year lease (because) he needs to close his books,” Bannon said.

With someone to underwrite the first three years of the museum’s operations and an empty historical building, it would possibly be a nice fit, he said.

“The town might consider another commercial venture, a realtor’s office or something. But, this being a historical area, it would be in the same vein,” Bannon told the board.

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