Our Story

The Bates Mill Store

In the 1950's, Bates Mill Store opened in Lewiston, Maine as an outlet offering second quality bedspreads to the employees of Bates Manufacturing Company-- a well known historic textile manufacturer remembered for its high quality cotton goods.

In 2001, Bates Manufacturing was forced to close its doors due to foreign competition. Shortly after, former Bates president Fred Lebel founded a legacy company, Maine Heritage Weavers, with daughter Linda Cloutier and a team of former Bates employees.

Since then, Maine Heritage Weavers has carried on the weaving tradition by faithfully maintaining the high quality and standards that made Bates famous and continues to weave many of the best remembered classic designs.

Today, the Bates Mill Store is a proud, family-owned retailer of these high quality American made textiles and is conveniently located alongside the Maine Heritage Weavers factory in Monmouth, Maine. They are available online as well as at our retail location in Monmouth, Maine.
 

The Bates Manufacturing Company and Maine Heritage Weavers

The Bates Manufacturing Company was established in Lewiston, Maine in 1850 by Benjamin Bates. It quickly became one of the largest textile manufacturers in New England and transformed Lewiston from a struggling agricultural town into a booming industrial city. By 1857, the Bates Mill in Lewiston ran 36,000 spindles, employed 1,000 hands, and annually turned out 5.7 million yards of the best quality of cotton goods. Even after winning multiple achievements and awards for his textiles, including “Best Pantaloon Stuffs” and “Best Plain and Fancy Cotton Fabrics”, Bates wanted more. Accordingly, in 1858 the Bates Manufacturing Company wove the first Bates bedspread.

Benjamin BatesUpon the Civil War, most New England mills started selling their cotton stock, assuming that the war would only last 90 days. Instead, Benjamin Bates bought as much cotton as he could find (despite the skyrocketing prices) and became the main supplier of Union textiles during the 4 year war. Even afterward, despite post-war depression, the Bates Manufacturing Company prospered and continued to expand. It was at this time that the French-Canadian population began to immigrate to Lewiston for work; even today the city of Lewiston continues to have a great French-Canadian influence (and many of the current mill workers have French-Canadian ancestors that began their American lives as mill workers).

Alfred J. Lebel, Photo Credit: Russ Dillingham

Throughout the Civil War and both World Wars the Bates Manufacturing Company continued to weave its fine quality cloths, with bedspreads being the main focus for the past 50 years. The company was running for more than a century when it was sadly forced to close its doors in 2000 like many of its peers in the world of American manufacturing.

Former Bates President and Founder of Maine Heritage Weavers, Fred Lebel, recognized the historic significance of Bates Mill and was not willing to let the cherished tradition fade into the past. With this in mind, Lebel and his daughter, Linda Cloutier (current President of Maine Heritage Weavers), salvaged the necessary equipment from the closing mill to create a new company, Maine Heritage Weavers, in the likeness of the historic manufacturer that so many people had come to rely on both for its loved, quality bedding as well as for employment.  Lebel further kept the tradition alive by hiring former Bates Mill employees who had lost their jobs when the Mill closed.  

Today, Maine Heritage Weavers maintains the high quality and standards of the old Bates Mill, and continues to weave many of the original designs.  The products are truly “loomed to be heirloomed.”

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