Lewiston, Maine's second largest city, was long looked upon by many as a mill town with grimy smoke stacks, crowded tenements, low-paying jobs, sleazy clubs and little by way of refinement, except for Bates College. Yet, a noted Québec historian, Robert Rumilly, described it as "the French Athens of New England."
Young men and women in the 19th century often went away from home -- sometimes for a few months, sometimes for longer periods -- to attend academies, seminaries, or schools run by individuals. While there, they wrote letters home, reporting on boarding arrangements and coursework undertaken, and inquired about the family at home.
… as reflected in street scenes in South Paris and Athens. A South Paris tintype of about 1860 shows eleven members of the Bemis family standing…