The founder of a Portland museum that tells the stories of “cryptids” like Bigfoot, the Yeti and the Loch Ness Monster intends to move all operations for the museum and its associated nonprofit to Bangor by 2024.

Loren Coleman said he’ll move the International Cryptozoology Museum, which has become an offbeat Portland tourist attraction, to a building on Broadway in Bangor that he called a “hidden treasure.” The announcement comes less than a year after he opened a bookstore in Bangor.

Coleman, a world-renowned expert on cryptids — animals whose existence is unsubstantiated — intends to purchase the building at 490 Broadway in Bangor, the former site of Bangor Redemption and Beverage Center, and consolidate all his locations into one spot in Bangor.

Coleman opened the International Cryptozoology Museum, or ICM, in Portland in 2003. Since then, it has expanded twice, first onto Congress Street and then to a much larger space at the Thompson’s Point development on the Fore River in 2016. It has showcased an ever-changing selection of the thousands of cryptozoology artifacts collected by Coleman over the years.

Affordability led Coleman to Bangor in 2021, when he purchased the building at 585 Hammond St., where earlier this year he opened an ICM bookstore and gift shop packed with unique artifacts like a Fiji Mermaid and a replica of the Minnesota Iceman. He also moved full-time to Bangor with his wife, Jennifer.

Now, he’s decided to move the entire kit and kaboodle from Portland to the Queen City.

“The Portland lease is finished in early 2026, and this hidden treasure combines our need for uniqueness and affordability in a wholly owned property in our new home city,” he said.

Coleman said he was struck by the unique architecture of the building, which was built in 1945 and which is located near the Interstate 95 interchange on Broadway, across from an Irving gas station.

Coleman said it was an example of Streamline Moderne architecture, a minimalist style of Art Deco design from the 1930s and ’40s that emphasized curved lines, sleekness and modernity. It was most often used in commercial and public buildings, as well as in designs for cars, trains and planes.

An artistic rendering of the future International Cryptozoology Museum, to be located at 490 Broadway in Bangor.

“Discovering this remarkable rare example of Streamline Moderne architecture from 1945 still existing in Bangor, Maine in 2022, is like finding a nearly extinct okapi living in the boreal forests of the American north woods,” Coleman said, referring to the endangered African land mammal. “There is little doubt in my mind we have to do everything we can to save it.”

Prior to the bottle redemption center, 490 Broadway was home to several taxi companies, including Dick’s Taxi and Town Taxi. Before that, it housed a dry cleaning business and a used car lot.

The building has been empty since the end of 2018, when the redemption center closed. In 2021, a Skowhegan businessman announced he intended to open a car wash there despite outcry from neighbors in the nearby Little City neighborhood. Later that year, however, the project was shelved.

The former Bangor Redemption and Beverage Center on Broadway in an April 2021 file photo. Credit: Linda  Coan O’Kresik / BDN

Coleman has studied cryptids for close to five decades. He’s written more than 40 books on various cryptozoological topics, and has served as a consultant and been interviewed for movies, TV shows and documentaries.

Work to move ICM operations to Bangor will not begin until late 2023, Coleman said, well after construction begins in the spring on an overhaul of the I-95 interchange on Broadway, as well as the replacement of the 95 overpass, a project that is expected to take at least two years to finish . The Hammond Street bookstore will remain open for the near future.

Correction: A previous version of this story misstated the year the museum’s lease is up in Portland.

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