Lewiston – Auburn, Maine

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Welcome to Lewiston-Auburn



With 36,592 residents at the 2010 census, Lewiston, in Androscoggin County, is Maine’s second-largest city. It is part of the Lewiston-Auburn metropolitan area.

This old industrial town lies at the foot of the Androscoggin River Falls, just across from Auburn. Together, the two cities have a population of 59,647, a little less than Portland (without its suburbs).

Lewiston is home to Bates College, St. Peter’s and St. Paul’s Basilica, the Lewiston-Auburn College of Southern Maine University, and two of the largest general hospitals in the region.


Chief Town of Androscoggin County, Auburn had a population of 23,055 at the 2010 census. It is one of two poles in the Lewiston-Auburn metropolitan area – the second being Lewiston.

“Daily life in Lewiston-Auburn has a distinctly French accent owing to the thousands of French Canadian immigrants who came to work in textile mills powered by the Androscoggin River in the mid-19th century”

— Bates College

Francophone History


In 1853, thanks to the Grand Trunk Railway, that linked Maine to Montreal and the St. Lawrence Valley, Portland became the port of exchange between the United States and Canada during the winter. Trains ran daily between Quebec City and Lewiston. During the Civil War, the latter took advantage of the strong demand for textiles to establish itself as an industrial city.

In 1860, French Canadians began to massively immigrate to Maine, attracted by jobs in cities downstream from falls where hydropower accelerated industrialization. They replaced the American workers, who had previously been the main source of labor for textile factories. From 1840 to 1890, the population of Lewiston exploded from 1,801 to 21,701. French Canadians gathered in a downtown neighborhood that has come to be known as “Little Canada.” To date, Lewiston has retained its essentially Franco-American character.

The Dominican Building, constructed by the The Insitut Jacques Cartier Society, acted as “the social and political nerve center” of Little Canada.

It was not until 1863 that Lewiston acquired city status. The year 1872 marks the construction of the first French-Canadian church in Maine, Saint-Pierre and Saint-Paul. Lewiston’s first newspaper, Le Messager, began publishing in 1880 to meet the demand of a predominantly Francophone population.

Franco points of interest include the Gendron Franco Center, the Franco-American Collection at the University of Southern Maine, the Museum L-A, the Androscoggin Historical Society, and the Maine Franco-American Genealogy Society.


The Auburn territory welcomed its first settlers in 1786. The city was officially incorporated in 1842. Its name would be inspired by that of a real or fictional village mentioned in The Deserted Village, a poem by Oliver Goldsmith. Auburn is expanding geographically to become one of Maine’s largest municipalities. In 1917, it became the first city in the state to choose the city council as a mode of governance.

Railroad bridge between Auburn and Lewiston in 1936 now a pedestrian bridge.

Auburn lived mainly from agriculture until the beginning of the 19th century, but the construction of a bridge linking it to Lewiston in 1823 and the arrival of the St. Lawrence & Atlantic Railway in 1848 made it take the industrial turn. Hydroelectric plants were built. In 1835, Auburn began manufacturing shoes in a factory setting. Other companies were engaged in the production of cotton and wool textiles, hitches, iron objects, bricks and furniture.

Attracted by job opportunities in shoe factories, thousands of French Canadians fled to Auburn, often by train, inflating the city’s population.

Lewiston – Auburn’s Franco Attractions and Sites

Discover the city’s Franco Heritage sites, along with additional attractions, including geocaching at historical sites, restaurants, accommodations, entertainment, and points of interest, by exploring the city map below.

Franco-American Collection

The Franco-American Collection at the University of Southern Maine preserves and promotes the culture and heritage of Maine’s Franco-American population. It holds a wealth of research materials, and it sponsors a variety of events that celebrate and promote the history and culture of Franco-Americans.


217 Turner St, Auburn, ME 04210

Maine Franco-American Genealogical Society

Maine Franco-American Genealogical Society is primarily a self-help genealogical research library.


217 Turner St, Auburn, ME 04210

Great Falls

These falls are the perfect picture between industry and nature. Admire the strength of the water that has fueled the economy of these cities.

Video of Great Falls

Great Falls, Auburn, Maine 04210

Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul

Saints Peter and Paul Basilica, founded in 1870, is the oldest parish for the French-speaking Catholics in the Diocese of Portland. The history of Saints Peter and Paul parish isn’t just the chronicle of an old church, but of the amazing faith of the French immigrants whose struggles, patience, and great generosity built it.


122 Ash St, Lewiston, ME 04240

Museum L-A

Museum L-A connects generations and cultures, fosters a spirit of discovery and human ingenuity, and helps people experience the rich history and heritage of work, the arts and community.


35 Canal St, Lewiston, ME 04240

The Foot Bridge

The Foot Bridge is a symbol of collaboration between the two sister cities, a paved path follows the perimeter of the park, crossing the pedestrian bridge, formerly a railway bridge, and leads to Bonney Park in Auburn.


Pedestrian Footbridge linking Bonney Park in Auburn, Maine and Simard-Payne Memorial Park in Lewiston, Maine

Gendron Franco Center

Originally the Church of St. Mary serving the Canadian-French Catholic community of Little Canada, this establishment is now the Gendron Franco Center hosting musical and theatrical performances of all kinds.


46 Cedar St, Lewiston, ME 04240

Little Canada

Built between 1866 and 1916, in order to accommodate the influx of French-Canadian immigrants, this neighborhood was full of large families who made up the majority of the factory workforce.

Little Canada History

The heart of Little Canada was situated between Lincoln Park Street and the Androscoggin River.

New Auburn

The Barker Mill was a catalyst for the residential development of what became known as “New Auburn.” New Auburn’s proximity to Lewiston, specifically Little Canada, prompted the building of the “South Bridge” (renamed Lown Peace Bridge) which offered additional employment opportunities and connections to a growing Franco-American community.

Places Serving Poutine

Poutine is a French-Canadian classic that is served across Canada. It’s a hearty dish of French fries, fresh cheese curds, and brown gravy.

Legends Sports Bar & Grill

4 Mollison Way
Lewiston, ME 04240

The Pit Bar & Grill

838 Lisbon Street
Lewiston, ME, 04240

Cowbell Grill & Tap

49 Lisbon Street
Lewiston, ME, 04240

Governor’s Restaurant

1185 Lisbon Street
Lewiston, ME 04240

Schemengees Bar and Grill

551 Lincoln Street
Lewiston, ME 04240

Pinky D’s

1110 Minot Avenue
Auburn, ME 04210 and Food Truck

Val’s Drive-In

925 Sabattus Street
Lewiston, ME 04240

The Pub at Baxter Brewing

120 Mill Street
Lewiston, ME 04240

Gridiron Restaurant & Sports Pub

1567 Lisbon Street
Lewiston, ME 04240

City Map

Franco Historical Sites

Sites of Interest



Geocache Sites