Lewiston-Auburn has managed to retrofit many of its most historic structures into buildings that manage to fit their modern uses
- By: Joshua F. Moore
Knapp Shoe Factory
Built in 1912 as the Bates Street Shirt Company, this 125,000-square-foot structure later served as the Knapp Shoe Factory. In 1996 it was converted into the offices of Central Maine Medical Center. It also houses the hospital’s nursing school. 29 Lowell St., Lewiston.
Built in 1852 and periodically added to until 1926, the sprawling Bates Mill became the symbol of prosperity in northern New England. Cotton stockpiled here kept Union soldiers warm and protected from the elements during the Civil War. One of the last buildings, No. 5, was designed by noted architect Albert Kahn in 1912 with a “saw-tooth” roof that maximizes sunlight, helping the weavers who created bedspreads, tents, and even parachutes in this building. 65-117 Canal St., Lewiston.
Knights of Columbus Building
A lawyer commissioned Platz and Associates to renovate this two-story structure in the early 1990s, when Lewiston’s renaissance was just beginning. Unlike other downtown structures that saw their interiors adapted to meet modern needs, this building’s interior was completely gutted and replaced with modern systems and structure that meets all building codes and handicapped-accessibility requirements. 103 Park St., Lewiston.
Chestnut, Park, and Lincoln Street Parking Garages
Where most communities view parking structures as necessary evils, Lewiston wanted its garages to be attractions in and of themselves. Beginning with the Chestnut Street garage, architects drew off the arches, industrial steel, and wrought iron that they saw within the city’s mills and created something that speaks to the past while also evoking a more modern sensibility. The city’s consistent priorities are even expressed through these utilitarian works of art; the second garage, on Park Street, was carefully sited to preserve the views from the District Court building to the Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul. The last garage, on Lincoln Street, is actually only half-completed, though it is fully operational — its second half will simply be added to the first as the city’s parking needs dictate.
Peck Building, c. 1899
Maine’s first department store and the state’s largest during the first part of the twentieth century, the building was converted into an L.L. Bean call center in 1987, though traces of the original façade can still be seen in the upper windows. 184 Main St., Lewiston.
Franco-American Heritage Center, c. 1908-28
Designed by the Boston firm of O’Connell and Shaw, this former Norman gothic-style church served the thousands of immigrants who left Quebec to work in the Lewiston mills and settled in “Little Canada”. 46 Cedar St., Lewiston.
Two Great Falls Plaza, c. 1984
The first large local project completed by the newly formed Platz and Associates architectural firm this seven-story, 65,000-square-foot structure was the first to be erected after Urban Renewal leveled much of downtown Auburn. Two Great Falls Plaza, Auburn.
Androscoggin Bank Colisee, c. 1958
The former St. Dominic’s ice arena had largely gone to ruin when the city bought it in 2003 and hired Platz and Associates to renovate it, largely to attract the Maineiacs hockey team to town (they’re still here). 193 Birch St., Lewiston
- By: Joshua F. Moore