Textiles and shoes are what most people think of when they consider the history of Lewiston and Auburn. But long after the shoes and blankets that came out of the mills have fallen apart, the millions of bricks that Morin Brick produced, some used to build those mills, are still as solid as the day they were made in the Auburn plant. 

Both Lewiston hospitals, Bates College and many other local buildings were made with the bricks formed by the company. Colby College and many buildings in Boston also have bricks from Morin Brick.

Standing next to one of the machines that produced those bricks, Henry “Lefty” Gilbert and Harvey Desgrosseilliers reminisced about old times as they worked on preserving yet another piece of Lewiston-Auburn history. 

Nearly 10 years ago, Harvey asked his former boss, Norm Davis at Morin Brick, if Davis would donate the old brick-making machine to his Museum L-A, of which Harvey’s wife, Rachel Desgrosseilliers, is executive director. The machine was rusting in a field next to the plant, long since replaced by more modern and efficient machines that do not require the strong backs of workers. Harvey thought it would be a great centerpiece for the museum.

Cote Crane & Rigging agreed to help move and store it in its enormous warehouse a few miles away while Gilbert and Harvey Desgrosseilliers restored it. With the museum undergoing lease and space issues shortly after, the project was put on the back burner until recently. With a new site for the museum well under way, Harvey and his long-ago co-worker meet each Tuesday morning to see what they can do to preserve a bit of local history. 

While the machine will never get back to working condition, they hope to remove most of the rust and apply a sealant to help preserve it. It will make the perfect centerpiece for the brick workers exhibit that the museum presented in 2010 with photos, stories, videos and bricks from the people who produced them. 

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