In the 1860s, the first French speaking Canadian migrants came to Lewiston-Auburn, Maine to work in the textile mills & shoe shops. In 1907 St. Mary’s Parish was established in the Little Canada neighborhood and became an important focal point for the population. However with the decline of the industries overtime the church began to suffer financially. The Catholic Diocese of Portland announced that it would be closing St. Mary's as of July 1st, 2000. The community wanted to preserve this symbol of Franco-American culture and therefore the Franco American Heritage Center at St. Mary's was born. Today it serves as a Performing Art, Museum and Learning Center.