Pawn shop murals showcase Lewiston diversity

Posted Oct. 21, 2013, at 8:54 a.m.

LEWISTON, Maine — It started a few years ago with a painting of a dollar bill on the front and a mural featuring reggae musicians on the side. As the business expanded into adjacent buildings, so did murals. If you make a left turn from Lisbon Street onto Cedar Street, you can’t miss them.

“We used to just be the yellow building. They never remembered our name,” said Rick LaChapelle, owner of the Lewiston Pawn Shop. “Now ‘it’s the one with all the pictures on it.’”

The murals, which were painted by Maine artist Glenn Chadbourne (known for his work in “The Illustrated Stephen King Trivia Book”), grew to feature scenes that reflect Lewiston’s diverse history. Some of the characters in the paintings are based on real people. LaChapelle’s family members, as well as a well-known downtown window-washer, have been immortalized on the brick walls.

A railroad theme stretches around the back of two buildings, paying homage to the French-Canadians who came down on the Grand Trunk Railroad to work in the mills in the early 1900s.

“The reaction to the murals has been excellent,” said LaChapelle. “We’re proud of our community.”