September 2, 2014

Quaker Quilts at Abram's Delight

This has been a year of quilt activities at the Winchester-Frederick County Historical Society in Virginia.  The finishing touches are being put on plans for their Seminar, "A Focus on Quilts from the Lower Shenandoah Valley", scheduled for September 19th and 20th.  (See information at left.)  Currently, "A Collection of Quilts" from their collection can be seen at the Hollingsworth Mill in Winchester, Virginia, through October 31st.

Additionally, it was Mary's pleasure to act as a Guest Curator for a special three-day exhibit of Quaker Quilts that was held June 13-15, 2014 at Abram's Delight, a Museum of the Winchester-Frederick County Historical Society.  The exhibit featured twenty-six quilts made between circa 1840 and 2007.  All were made or owned for generations by members of the Religious Society of Friends.  Many were made by direct descendants of Abraham Hollingsworth for whom Abram's Delight Museum is named.  Built by his son, Isaac, it is believed that construction on the house started before Abraham's death in 1748.

Abram's Delight Museum, Winchester, Virginia.  Photograph courtesy of the
Winchester-Frederick County Historical Society.
One of the most recent quilts on display was made by Janney Lupton in 1997.  Janney Lupton is a direct descendant of Isaac Hollingsworth, the original builder of Abram's Delight.
Hollingsworth Revisited, 1997.  Quilt made by Janney Lupton.
Janney based her Hollingsworth Revisited Quilt on the Hollingsworth Family Quilt, circa 1858, which is now in the permanent collection of the Winchester-Frederick County Historical Society.
Hollingsworth Family Quilt, circa 1858.  Collection of the Winchester-Frederick
County Historical Society.  Photograph by Barbara Tricarico.
Janney Lupton's 1997 Hollingsworth Revisited Quilt won "Best in Show" at "A Century of Quiltmaking" at Belle Grove, Winchester, Virginia, and "Best in Show" at the 2007 Maine Quilt Show, Augusta, Maine.  Her straight-set reinterpretation is heavily hand-quilted in a half-inch hanging diamond grid design.  The applique designs include cutwork hearts, similar to those seen in several other mid-nineteenth century Quaker quilts made in Virginia, as well as five blocks of the pattern known locally as "Apple Pie Ridge Star".  (See our post of February 4, 2012.)  This block is at the corners and fourth from the top in green, far right.  Janney Lupton was the first to publish the charming block pattern name after learning it from this quilt's previous owner, her cousin Janney Wilson.
While examining the original Hollingsworth Family Quilt over a light box, Janney made a startling discovery.
Hollingsworth Family Quilt, detail.  Photograph by Mary Holton Robare.
Hollingsworth Family Quilt, details showing the same block of appliqued circles
lit from behind.  Photograph by Barbara Tricarico.
What appeared to be a block of appliqued circles is, in fact, hiding an original "Vase of Tulips".
Theories about why the original block was covered up are numerous.  The first thought is that the "circles" block was a repair.  However, close examination by an expert determined there was no visible damage to the original block.  Furthermore, the fabrics and stitching of the added block appear to be contemporary to the rest of the quilt. 
One possible explanation was suggested by Janney Lupton:  "Perhaps the maker of the hidden block was disowned by strict mid-nineteenth century Quakers, resulting in the block's 'erasure'."  Some reasons for disownment included training in the military, frolicking and dancing, marrying outside of the faith, or even simply attending a non-Quaker wedding.  While we may never really know why the pre-existing block was covered up, knowledge of its mere existence is irresistible to any mystery lover. 
Note:  You can learn more about the three-day exhibit in the new publication by Mary titled "Quaker Quilts: Snapshots of an Exhibition."  (See link at left to purchase it through  The pamphlet-style, 42 page book features a never-before published pattern for creating your own applique template of a "Hidden Vase of Tulips".  The pattern was originally drafted by Janney Lupton directly off of the circa 1858 Hollingsworth Family Quilt.
In addition to some family history and anecdotes pertaining to the makers and owners of the twenty-six exhibited quilts, there is a snapshot of a circa 1850 Quaker quilt that was brought to a Quilt Turning conducted by Barbara Garrett on June 15, 2014, at the Hollingsworth Mill, Winchester, Virginia.
______________  "Quaker Networks Revealed In Quilts."  In Proceedings of the Textile History Forum.  Cherry Valley, NY: Textile History Forum, 2007.
Robare, Mary Holton.  Quilts and Quaker Heritage: Selections from an Exhibition, Virginia Quilt Museum, May 3-September 22, 2008.  Winchester, VA: Hillside Studios, 2008.
Virginia Consortium of Quilters.  Quilts of Virginia: The Birth of America Through the Eye of a Needle.  Atglen, PA: Schiffer Publishing Ltd., 2006.
(c) Lynda Salter Chenoweth and Mary Holton Robare, 2014.

No comments:

Post a Comment