When the Catholic Diocese of Portland announced that it would close St. Mary's Church on Oxford St. in Lewiston, as of July 1, 2000, people in the community mobilized to create a Franco-American Heritage Center, which would become a combination museum, cultural center, and performance hall.
On Sunday, June 25, 2000, Bishop Joseph Gerry celebrated the last mass at St. Mary's Church. Although St. Mary's days as a beloved church were over, at the conclusion of the Mass, Bishop Gerry announced that the Catholic Diocese of Portland was turning ownership of the church building over to the local community group to create the Franco-American Heritage Center.
This gesture ensures that the building will remain a living landmark in Lewiston-Auburn. The building was sold to the community group for $1 but it was done with the understanding that the community group would raise funds to preserve the building and make sure it is maintained in good condition.
Selected Franco-American Heritage Center images: