Museum featuring locally made products

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Museum L-A Executive Director Rachel Desgrosseilliers, left, and Maine Heritage Weavers President Alfred “Fred” Lebel stand next to the museum’s new display featuring the company’s products. “The Interlaken,” which Desgrosseilliers is admiring, is one of two new designs from Maine Heritage Weavers. The other, “Abigail Adams,” is displayed on the left.

Museum featuring locally made products

LEWISTON – Museum L-A is showcasing the line of bedspreads and throws woven nearby at Maine Heritage Weavers.

“We are proud to be honoring the continuation of an industry that is so important to the history of Lewiston-Auburn,” said Rachel Desgrosseilliers, executive director of the museum. “Many people still do not realize that heirloom-quality bedspreads are still being made here.”

Although the textile industry in America has changed over the years, Maine Heritage Weavers continues to be the factory-direct supplier of Bates-style quality bedspreads. The bedspreads are woven by the last generation of Bates employees, who are now the first generation of employees of Maine Heritage Weavers.

“Twelve of the current 14 employees were originally Bates employees,” said Maine Heritage Weavers President Alfred “Fred” Lebel. The dozen employees “have an average of at least 20 years of bedspread-making experience, which is invaluable in the making of quality bedspreads.”

In the fall of 2002, nearly a year after Bates of Maine closed its operations, Maine Heritage Weavers started its first loom at the former Bates Hill Division. The company now has nine looms and six are in operation. The company began with seven employees and has doubled its workforce. Production also increased by more than 500 percent since the company started.

Two of Maine Heritage Weavers’ new designs will be featured at the museum. “Interlaken” is based on Bates of Maine’s “Tuscany” cotton matelassé bedspread – a historic design from the archives of the Smithsonian Institution.

The grape and vine pattern and floral motif evoke images of the Tuscany region of Italy. The puffed matelassé technique defines the design, giving it a dimensional look and feel that is elegant and rich.

The “Abigail Adams” is based on a design of the same name introduced by Bates in 1984. The matelassé bedspread is woven in an elegant “trapunto” style – also referred to as “stuffed work.”

The style originated around the 14th century in Sicily and was popular in England and France in the 1600s before being introduced by European immigrants to America.

Museum L-A, incorporated in 1996, is dedicated to preserving and showcasing the history of the Industrial Revolution and its workers in Lewiston-Auburn. The museum works to preserve the heritage of the community.

Museum L-A is open Monday through Saturday and is located at 35 Canal St. in the Bates Mill Complex. For more information, contact the museum at 333-3881 or e-mail Rachel Desgrosseilliers at rachel@museumla.org.

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