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November 6, 2023

Now you see it: Androscoggin Historical Society moves to heart of Lewiston’s downtown

room with display cases and artifacts Courtesy / Androscoggin Historical Society Androscoggin Historical Society’s new home at 93 Lisbon St. in Lewiston offers street-front visibility and more room for its archives and programming.

The Androscoggin Historical Society’s move from Auburn to 93 Lisbon St. in Lewiston offers the nonprofit street-front visibility and more room for its archives and programming.

The society is holding a grand opening at its new home on Nov. 14 at 12:30 p.m., with a plaque unveiling and remarks by state Sen. Margaret Rotundo, D-Androscoggin, and the society’s president, David Chittim. 

brick buliding with arched window
Courtesy / Androscoggin Historical Society
The Androscoggin Historical Society bought 93 Lisbon St. from retired attorneys Coleman Coyne and Paul Murphy in 2022.

The former owners of the building, retired attorneys Coleman Coyne and Paul Murphy, of the firm Murphy & Coyne, will remove their law office signage as a prelude to revealing the new Androscoggin Historical Society plaque. 

There will be an open house until 5 p.m., with tours of the exhibitions, library, archives and facilities.

That will be followed by a presentation at 7 p.m. at the LA Arts gallery at 168 Lisbon St., where the Penobscot Marine Museum will present a slideshow of selections from its collection of glass plate negatives relating to Androscoggin County.

All events are free and open to the public. For more information, click here.

Third floor

The society was founded in 1923 with a mission to discover, preserve and disseminate knowledge about the history of Androscoggin County and the state of Maine. The group initially occupied  a single room on the third floor of the County Building, at 2 Turner St. in Auburn, and has been there ever since.

By 1936, the society occupied the entire third floor. But the collection grew so large as to force off-site storage of many artifacts. Public access to the museum and research library was limited to the County Building schedule and was also hampered by inadequate parking and court security screening.

With the goal of moving from the relative obscurity of the third floor of the County Building, the society bought 93 Lisbon St. in 2022 and began a campaign to raise $750,000, to fund the $460,000 building purchase, $112,000 in renovations, $120,000 in program development and $58,000 in additional expenses.

The move took 1,800 volunteer hours and involved 1,500 artifacts. 

Downtown visibility

With the purchase of 93 Lisbon St., the society realized a goal to provide ready access to rotating curated exhibits, diverse programming and street-front visibility that exposes the society to a broader audience. The focus on local access aims to build on the society’s reach as a resource for genealogical and historical research by in-person visitors and virtual queries.

The fundraising campaign to support the move and transition began in 2022 and has reached one third of its $750,000 goal with several pledges in the pipeline, according to a news release.

lobby with white walls and doorways
Courtesy / Androscoggin Historical Society
The entrance of 93 Lisbon St. opens into an atrium whose street-front visibility is expected to increase the Androscoggin Historical Society’s exposure to a broader audience.

The campaign will launch a “family initiative” in conjunction with the events on Nov. 14, designed to attract gifts of $5,000 or more to honor families of Androscoggin County on an art installation at 93 Lisbon St. and to preserve their family history in the permanent archives. 

The society houses histories of all towns in Androscoggin County and the state of Maine, through its collection of artifacts and archives, as well as through programs and exhibitions. 

The organization also serves K-12 schools; home-schooled students; three local colleges and individuals; and conducts lectures and open-house programs, local and remote research, walking and historic house tours, and hands-on interactive experiences at its two historic properties in Auburn: the 1796 Knight House and the 1850 West Auburn one-room schoolhouse.

Goals of the campaign include improving educational outreach to adults and youth, onsite and offsite; developing curated exhibits for public display; expanding hours of operation; increasing storage capacity for artifacts and historical documents; and updating the cataloguing system so the collection is easily accessible.

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Wonderful beginning to a new adventure in history!

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