Dry Mills Schoolhouse needs $30,000 to reopen

The Dry Mills Schoolhouse Museum Committee has launched a capital fundraising campaign with the goal of raising $30,000 for repairs.

GRAY — The town committee working to preserve and protect the Dry Mills Schoolhouse Museum has kicked off a capital fundraising campaign in hopes of getting the building back open for the public to enjoy.

The historic schoolhouse dating back to the 1850s was closed in September of 2015 because of safety concerns, the town says, and it requires a new floor system before it can be reopened.

The cost of repairs is estimated to be $60,000 and the town has allocated $30,000 for the project.

“Our goal is to fill that gap,” said Committee Chairperson Jen Dupuis about the campaign.

Town Councilor Sandy Carder, the council liaison to the Dry Mills
Schoolhouse Museum Committee, said in an email that the group is “undertaking a capital fundraising campaign to raise funds towards the needed repairs and long-term operational costs of the schoolhouse.”

The campaign held its first official fundraiser on Saturday, Nov. 11, at the schoolhouse, located on the access road to the Maine Wildlife Park.

“As a committee, we are just really excited,” Dupuis said about the campaign effort moving forward.

While Dupuis hopes the town will dedicate more money to the project in the upcoming budget, she recognizes that it may have other priorities.

“I understand that there are a lot of important areas” that need town funding, she said.

Dupuis said that an earlier plan for the Gray-based Liberty Family Foundation to help fund provide the needed funds was “put on hold indefinitely” because of founder Michael Liberty’s legal situation. A developer, philanthropist and Gray native, Liberty was sentenced in August to four months in prison for illegal campaign contributions.

“It all came to a stop when Michael Liberty went to jail,” she said.

According to the Federal Bureau of Prisons website, Liberty is currently serving his sentence in a minimum security prison facility in Pensacola, Florida, and is set to be released on Jan. 20, 2018.

Dupuis is “thrilled” with the number of people who have come forward so far looking for information on the fundraising efforts. About 60 people signed up on Election Day asking to be kept in the loop on future schoolhouse developments.

“Which is pretty darn good,” she said.

According to Dupuis, the building’s last year as a functioning schoolhouse was 1962. She called it “an interesting snapshot into early education.”

“It’s our only historical museum” in town, she said.

Dupuis said the committee meets on the first Thursday of every month at the Gray Public Library, and members of the public are welcome to join.

Matt Junker can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or mjunker@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @MattJunker.

The Dry Mills Schoolhouse Museum Committee has launched a capital fundraising campaign with the goal of raising $30,000 for repairs.