Museum L-A plans to build a new museum at the site of the former Camden Yarns Mill at 1 Beech Street in Lewiston. The solid front brick section with a tower will be kept. Museum L-A photo

LEWISTON – The Museum L-A board of directors announced Monday it has chosen Platz Associates of Auburn to design its new museum on 2.5 acres next to Simard-Payne Memorial Park.

“We’ve already done the demolition of the 17,000-square-foot building that used to be (on the lot),” museum Executive Director Rachel Desgrosseilliers said. “We’ve put about $1.5 million into the site so far.”

An architectural drawing shows the site of the new Museum L-A building at lower right, next to Simard-Payne Memorial Park on Beech Street in Lewiston. Drawing by Platz Associates of Auburn

The lot, located at 1 Beech Street, contained the former Camden Yarns Mill, according to Museum L-A’s website.

Ownership of the Camden Yarns Mill was transferred to Museum L-A in June 2009.

“This places us in one of Lewiston’s first cotton mills with a long history of textiles and recycling,” Desgrosseilliers said on Museum L-A’s website after Museum L-A purchased the mill. “We can look toward Main Street and tell the story of water power, the Great Falls, the canal system and the Androscoggin River.

“As we face Lincoln Street, we can tell the story of the mills with its textile heritage. We look across the river and see Auburn, with its history of shoemaking. Surrounding us are buildings made from the brickyards of Lewiston and Auburn.”

The original building was constructed in 1864 as one of Lewiston’s earliest cotton mills, Desgrosseilliers said on the website.

Platz Associates was one of several architectural firms that submitted proposals for the new building.

“Platz Associates is thrilled to have been chosen as the architect of the new home for Museum L-A,” co-founder Tom Platz said in a news release. “This project is exciting on many fronts. It’s an honor to be part of a project that will be so transforming to both the people and the city.”

Margaret Craven, chairwoman of the Museum L-A board, said she is “thrilled that this project is moving forward and (that) we have chosen the best architects for the job.”

Desgrosseilliers said Platz Associates will work closely with Lewiston and Auburn to determine what residents want out of the museum.

“(That includes) our younger generations, because their input has already helped guide some decisions,” she added.

“Once Platz does its schematic designs, develops a work plan and reaches out to the community to see what they want out of a new museum, we’ll have a better idea when we can start building,” Desgrosseilliers said.

The museum is housed in the Bates Mill Complex at 35 Canal St. Established in 1996, the museum’s mission is to celebrate the history, creativity, character and cultural diversity of Maine’s working people, according to its website.

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