milltown

The Milltown Project is a photographic narrative of a small river town located in central Maine. In the early 1900's, Lewiston was one of the fastest growing towns in New England, fueled by one of the largest shoe manufacturing operations in the country. Underpinned by a strong French-Canadian immigrant community, Lewiston's population comprised primarily of young mill workers, entrepreneurs and service men and women. Throughout the early 1900's the arriving immigrants were greeted with career opportunities in manufacturing, sales, and distribution.  Today the remains of 6 mills, totaling 1.25 million square feet of the sprawling manufacturing floor space, sit vacant. The erosion of Lewiston’s industrial based economy and offshoring of textile manufacturing has not provided the same economic opportunity of years past to today's incoming immigrant community. 

The stagnating population, involuntary influx of ethnic minorities and reliance on social entitlement programs have given rise to tremendous tensions, social class segregation, and an ever-deepening racial divide within the town. 

A juxtaposition of the economic and social elements of the area, the “Milltown Project” explores the social cracks, the racial fears and the socioeconomic divide of the communities throughout the local area. As the series depicts the geography of the town, it highlights residential distinctions and societal concerns.  By comparing and contrasting the lifestyles and religious traditions of the early French Canadians to the contemporary African newcomers, the project reveals the similarities in the struggles faced by these two immigrant communities.

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© 2023 by ASHLYN POSIAK