The Pepperell Mills Company recruited Albanian men to work as textile designers and dyers in Biddeford, starting in the 1880s. The Albanians were sought because of their expert knowledge of fabrics—gained by living along the Silk Road route in the Middle East for centuries.
The Albanian men initially moved to Biddeford without their families, but sent for wives and children after becoming established. Some of the Albanians practiced Islam and others were Orthodox Christians; both used the Pepperell Mills Counting House for multi-denominational worship. Since many of the Albanians were Muslim, this may have been the first Mosque in the United States.
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