‘A Collection of Quilts’ opens at Hollingsworth Mill

Posted: March 29, 2014

The Winchester Star

Cissy Shull, director of the Winchester-Frederick County Historical Society, shows the quilt pattern Robbing Peter to Pay Paul, created in 1918 by Courtney Ann Stephenson Richard of Frederick County. At right is the Grim/Hoover Lyder quilt made in 1848. (Photo by Jeff Taylor/The Winchester Star)
This is one of three quilts circa 1880 owned by the Rosenberger family that will be on display at the Hollingsworth Mill in Winchester.

Winchester — Thousands of tiny stitches will help to unravel the past with a new quilt exhibit presemted by the Winchester-Frederick County Historical Society.

The society opens for the 2014 season Tuesday, and the biggest new addition will be “A Collection of Quilts” at Hollingsworth Mill, said Cissy Shull, the society’s executive director.

The exhibit features 20 items from the society’s archives, focusing on quilts, but also including quilt tops, quilted petticoats and baby bonnets, she said.

Shull and Sherry Jenkins, administrative assistant, curated the show, relishing the opportunity to pull the fabric treasures out of their storage boxes and share them with the public, Shull said.

“Women’s studies is a little lacking sometimes because of what was written down. The quilts tell the ladies’ stories, and I find that fascinating,” said Shull, who lives in Winchester.

The show will be on display at the house, 1360 S. Pleasant Valley Road, from Tuesday to Oct. 31. It is free and open to the public.

The society’s other properties — George Washington’s Office, 32 W. Cork St.; Stonewall Jackson’s Headquarters, 415 N. Braddock St.; and Abram’s Delight, 1340 S. Pleasant Valley Road — will also open Tuesday. Admission is $5.

Although knowledge is limited about the quilts and the women who made them, they raise some interesting questions, said Jenkins, a Frederick County resident.

For instance, the Hollingsworth Family Quilt, which dates to about 1858, was stitched by 15 women. One of the quilt blocks was obviously covered over by a different square, essentially wiping the original woman’s contribution out of the quilt, she said.

“This was a deliberate cover-up, a censure of this person,” she said. “We don’t know what she did.”

The original Vase of Tulips pattern can still be seen, if the viewer uses a light table, she said. The quilt was given to the society in 1994 by a Hollingsworth descendant.

Shull’s favorite piece in the show is a blue and white Wild Goose Chase quilt, dating to about 1930. She loves the color combination and noted that it is a “well done, beautiful quilt.”

Jenkins likes a circa-1848 quilt in the Album Signature pattern. The multi-colored quilt was passed down from the Lyder family to the Windle family.

“It is in such good condition. It is the one signature quilt where we can read all the signatures. They are in ink and all legible,” she said.

A Tumbling Block quilt dating to about 1880 has the feel of an optical illusion and is intense to look at, Shull said.

All of the quilts have something the two women liked, whether the quilts themselves or the stories behind them, Jenkins said. “It’s exciting and joyful. Cissy and I have enjoyed researching the ladies’ stories and what we have learned.”

This museum season will have a strong emphasis on quilts beyond the exhibit, Shull said. She has events planned through the fall to intrigue quilt and history enthusiasts.

A special three-day exhibit “Quaker Quilts of Winchester and Frederick County” will be held on June 13-15 at Abram’s Delight Museum and feature many quilts that have never been shown in public, she said. Admission will cost $5.

Some special programs coordinate with the exhibit. Quilt historian Barbara Garrett will conduct a quilt-turning from noon to 2 p.m. on June 15 with pieces ranging from the 1800s to 1950, Shull said. In a quilt-turning, a large number of quilts are stacked and the speaker discusses their design and history. A $10 fee will be chargedfor the event.

The society is still looking for Quaker quilts to borrow for the event. They do not have to be locally made, she said.

From 2 to 4 p.m. on June 15, Mary Robare, an independent researcher and lecturer, will present a behind-the-scenes tour of the Quaker Quilts. Admission costs $5.

The society will hold a quilt symposium “Focus on Quilts from the Lower Shenandoah Valley” on Sept. 20 at Shenandoah University’s Harry F. Byrd Jr. School of Business, Shull said. Speakers will explore various historical aspects of quilting. The cost is $65 for society members and $75 for nonmembers.

On the Friday before the symposium, Sept. 19, quilt historian Neva Hart will hold a quilt documentation from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Quilts will be measured, photographed and listed in a database at the Virginia Quilt Consortium. Appointments are required.

Also on Sept. 19, the society will take a bus trip to Cherry Row, a 1794 home belonging to Jenny and David Powers, to view their quilt collection. The cost is $25. Space is limited.


The Winchester-Frederick County Historical Society will open for the season Tuesday and debut a new exhibit, “A Collection of Quilts,” in the Hollingsworth Mill at 1360 S. Pleasant Valley Road. Admission is free for the exhibit, but $5 for the society’s other properties.

For more information, contact 540-662-6550 or visit winchesterhistory.org.

— Contact Laura McFarland at lmcfarland@winchesterstar.com