Picture and history included with each pen

This heritage pen is made from hardwood flooring taken from the fourth floor of the original Bates Mill in Lewiston, Maine. Built between 1852 and 1923 by Benjamin Bates, the Bates Mill complex consists of 11 building of about 1.2-million square feet on 10 acres of property right in the heart of the downtown area. The first Bates bedspread was manufactured there in 1858.

For more than 100 years the Bates Mill complex served as the industrial anchor of western Maine and is recognized as symbolic of the cultural identity, economic evolution and perseverance of Lewiston as a community. During the Civil War, the Bates Mill was a large supplier of fabrics for the Union soldiers, primarily the duck cloth used for tents.

In the 1870's large groups of French-Canadians moved to the Lewiston area to provide labor for the expanding mills. Their descendants, along with the wonderful Franco culture they brought with them, are strong in the Lewiston area to this day.

During World War II, Bates produced nylon parachute cloth, airplane wing fabric, and sheets and bedspreads for service hospitals. The Bates Mill employed over 6,000 workers in the 1950's, making it the single largest employer in the State of Maine. By 1977, however, the Mill employed only 800 people due to worldwide shifts in the textile industry.

The passing of the New England textile industry left most of the Bates Mill complex unoccupied and in need of major structural interior improvements and the City acquired the property through a tax lien in 1992. A federal grant was used to make major repairs and now the City rents to 20 commercial tenants employing over 800 people.

Today, 120 craftsmen and women, some of whom are descendants of the original Franco immigrants, still manufacture the famous Bates bedspreads at the Mill complex. There are exciting plans for the future of the Mill, which has been recognized as a project of historic significance and all buildings are eligible for listing on the National Historic Register.

In the 1850's the Bates Mill became the heart of Lewiston, and it is now at the heart of the revitalization of the City. For further information about the Bates Mill complex, contact Allan Turgeon, property manager, City of Lewiston, 207-782-5355.

Maine Heritage Inc.                      Old Town, Me.    207-659-5104     wpens@aol.com