In 1850, Benjamin Bates began construction on his first mill, Bates Mill in Lewiston, hoping to make his fortune in the textile industry as the Bates Manufacturing Company. The company quickly grew to become one of the largest textile manufacturers in New England and transformed Lewiston from an agricultural town into a booming city. After a steady decline in sales, the mill slowed down production in 1990 before officially closing their doors in 2001. Museum L-A, founded in 1996, started its collection by salvaging the machinery and artifacts that were left behind when operations ceased.
As the Museum began to grow, there was a recognized need to tell not only the story of the textile mill workers, but also the workers from the shoe and brick industries that built the Lewiston-Auburn area as well. This lead to further collecting on behalf of the Museum. The artifacts that have been collected serve to augment the stories that are being told in the permanent and temporary exhibits that are installed in our gallery spaces.