All Things Maine
All Things Maine

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Lewiston's Own Pork-Barrel Project

Matt Bradley writes today in The Christian Science Monitor about the $300,000 granted by Congress to restore the facade of the Franco-American Heritage Center in Lewiston.
"It's very important," says Rita Angers, standing on the center's steps that overlook what used to be Lewiston's working-class Little Canada neighborhood. The center is inside a gothic-style chapel that was once St. Mary's Church.

Ms. Angers remembers when the neighborhood used to walk through the snow to gather for Mass or work at the nearby Bates Mill. Social clubs like Le Passe-Temps, still active across the street, used to hold snowshoe races against out-of-town Quebecois.

When the Catholic Diocese of Portland vacated St. Mary's in 2000, community leaders rushed to transform the church into a cultural center to save it from the wrecking ball. Now, the city hopes to restore it as one of the preeminent symbols of French-speaking New England. [Link]

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