Many of the workers at Maine Heritage Weavers in Lewiston are doing the same work as their parents and grandparents, and some of them are using the same looms that have been producing quality blankets, bedspreads and other textiles since the early 1800s.

Fred Lebel started working at Bates Mill when he got out of the service in 1952. He worked for Bates until it closed. Not wanting to see the loss of an industry so vital to the history of Lewiston or the skilled workers involved, he bought some of the equipment, patents and patterns, and moved the operation from the Bates Mill across Chestnut Street to the Roy Hill Mill, starting a new venture, Maine Heritage Weaving.

More importantly, along with his daughter, Linda Cloutier, he slowly began hiring back some of the most skilled weavers who worked for him at Bates. Today, Lebel still works every day, but in his own words, “Linda has taken over and does most of the work. I just help out. We have been growing, adding looms and workers, and in a month or two, we will have some very big news that we are excited about.”

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