Museum L-A Executive Director Rachel Desgrosseilliers, left talks about how the museum obtained these artifacts with Lewiston Deputy City Administrator Denis D’Auteuil at the museum last week. Sun Journal photo by Russ Dillin

LEWISTON — Deputy City Administrator Denis D’Auteuil received a telephone call in April from a man in Massachusetts who, while renovating an old house, found two pictorial weavings from the late 19th century with connections to Lewiston.

Museum L-A Executive Director Rachel Desgrosseilliers was contacted by a person renovating a home in Massachusetts who found this pictorial weaving depicting the Continental Mill, and a promotional weaving created for the 1894 French Expo. Sun Journal photo by Russ Dillingham

One of the weavings features the Continental Mill in Lewiston at the center, with illustrations of an American minuteman and a farmer in the lower corners.

The second weaving features a commemorative motif with a banner across the front stating, “Ecole Municipale to tisse, 1884,” or “Municipal School of Fabric, 1884.”

The caller, Ronald Cunha of Acushnet, Massachusetts, asked D’Auteuil if the city of Lewiston would be interested in the weavings.

D’Auteuil quickly reached out to Rachel Desgrosseilliers, executive director of Museum L-A, to see if the weavings were something the museum would want for its collection.

“It was an automatic yes from me,” Desgrosseilliers said.

The weavings cost $150, Desgrosseilliers said, a price that was paid by resident George Gendron.

Photos from the Continental Mill in Lewiston accompanied some weavings obtained by Museum L-A who are in the process of trying to obtain more information on the photos and weavings. Sun Journal photo by Russ Dillingham

“The money wasn’t in our budget for the year,” Desgrosseilliers said, “and when George found out about it, he asked me if this was important for the museum. When I told him it was, he said he’d pay for them.”

Desgrosseilliers said she spoke with Jacqueline Field, a textile historian and author, who said it appeared the weavings had been created somewhere other than the Continental Mill.

“The Continental Mill didn’t have the capability to do this style of silk weavings,” Desgrosseilliers said. “We don’t have proof, but it looks like the weavings were made at the Municipal School of Fabric in Lyon, France, for inclusion in the 1894 French International Expo.”

The 1894 French International Expo was a World’s Fair held in Lyon, France, that was visited by 3.8 million people, according to Desgrosseilliers.

Originally built in 1858 as the Porter Mill, the 560,000-square-foot Continental Mill was renamed and expanded in 1866 after being bought by the Continental Co., according to an application with the National Register of Historic Places.

By 1895, the Continental Co. employed 1,200 people at the cotton mill.

Museum L-A Executive Director Rachel Desgrosseilliers was contacted by a person renovating a home in Massachusetts who found this pictorial weaving depicting the Continental Mill, and a promotional weaving created for the 1894 French Expo. Sun Journal photo by Russ Dillingham

Emma Sieh, the collections and exhibits coordinator for Museum L-A, said both weavings will require some preservation work before they can be displayed.

“There are water stains on the weavings that will take some work by textile conservationists,” Sieh said. “They need to look and figure out whether the water stains just happened or if it happened 40 years ago, and whether the stains are water or something else.”

Sieh said the museum must also determine the right frame and ultraviolet glass for the weavings to ensure “we don’t damage it further by immediately putting it out on display.”

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Photos from the Continental Mill in Lewiston accompanied some weavings obtained by Museum L-A who are in the process of trying to obtain more information on the photos and weavings. Sun Journal photo by Russ Dillingham


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