The former St. Mary’s Church, now the Franco Center, is a historically significant building that is now a center for performing arts, weddings, community events, and more. The church was built in phases, as many churches are, including St. Peter and St. Paul Basilica: the basement/crypt was built first to fill the need for a larger space to hold the growing parish, followed by a second building phase to construct an upper level sometimes known as a superstructure.
The Franco Center building is signficant for many reasons: it is a monument to immigrants who left their homes in another country to live and work in the growing Lewiston textile and shoe industries; it is an example of Late Gothic Revival architecture; it was designed by architect Timothy O’Connell known for his ecclesiastical buildings; and it is also significant as major examples of the efforts of two of Lewiston’s most important construction firms, Lemieux and Chevalier, who built the crypt/basement in 1907, and Louis Malo and Sons, responsible for the construction of the superstructure in 1927.
Our fundraising efforts are underway for building repairs and improvements that amount to $7 million with the work being completed over a five-year period. These repairs and improvements do not detract from the building’s historical significance. The exterior granite and buttress repair work are necessary to prevent deterioration of the building. These repairs will enable the Franco Center to continue to open its doors to Maine people seeking live performing arts for generations to come.
We need to preserve the rich history signified by this building. Locals and tourists stop in to learn about immigrant history, see live performances, or rent the venue for a celebration, concert, or fundraiser. The building is a beacon in the community and needs everyone’s support for the repairs and improvements. Another repair on our list are repairs to the beautiful stained-glass windows. One of the planned improvements to the building is air conditioning in the upper hall.
We would love to know that you support our efforts to keep this building open for live performances and rentals. Please visit our donation page and select SOS Save Our Stones from the dropdown menu. If you need help using the online form to make a donation, call our administrator at 207-514-7477 or development director at 207-261-5240.