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Quilt display opens Friday at museum

PIPESTONE -- The Pipestone County Museum will host an open house reception from 4 to 6 p.m. Friday to debut its new exhibit: "Piece by Piece: A Sampler of Pipestone County Quilts."

The exhibit includes eight full-size quilts along with quilt blocks, a crazy quilt pillow, and an unfinished crazy quilt -- all donated to the museum for preservation and display. Museum staff came up with the idea for the quilt display and added quilting-related items to its gift shop -- including beginning quilt kits and a book of Minnesota Quilts that features two of the quilts now on display in the museum.

"We are trying to rotate our artifacts and we have beautiful quilts that have not been displayed for years, if ever," said museum director Susan Hoskins of the artifacts hung in Gallery 4. She said the display also gives the museum an opportunity to showcase the newly carpeted room in the historic building.

It is often said that quilts tell a story, and that is evident by those on display in the "Piece by Piece" exhibit. Many of them are signature quilts, boasting the names of embroiderers and quilters who stitched each block. One features red wagon wheels on a white background, with embroidered names delicately stitched between the spokes. The quilt was completed in 1914-1915 by the Ladies Aid Society of Cazenovia, a Pipestone County community that no longer exists.

"There's still a sign that says, 'Cazenovia, 3 miles,' but there's no sign marking the town," said Hoskins, adding that there's still a high sense of community from those who live in the Cazenovia area.

The Cazenovia quilt, along with a feathered star quilt that hangs nearby, are each featured in the book, "Minnesota Quilts." The feathered star quilt is believed to have been stitched in the mid-19th Century. Completed by a woman known only as Mrs. Goodman, the quilt features 20 blocks surrounded by a border of lilies. The entire quilt was hand-stitched, as Mrs. Goodman did not own a sewing machine.

"I really like this quilt," said Stephanie Hall, the museum's collections manager, of the Goodman quilt. "The more I look at it, the more I like it."

Each of the four corners of the quilt are different, causing Hall and Hoskins to wonder if the quilt was initially made without the corners so it would fit around the bed posts.

One of their favorite quilts in the display isn't an antique by any means, but is appreciated for its design. The quilt is a virtual map of Pipestone County, with embroidery marking each township, railroad, cemetery, river and special feature -- including the highest elevation of the county.

"It was made in 1980 by the Friends of the Historical Society," said Hoskins.

Each town is depicted in embroidery, with the Christiansen House stitched for the community of Jasper, the Sweet House for Pipestone, and a buffalo marking the area known as Buffalo Ridge.

Trosky's centennial quilt is also on display in the exhibit, as well as a pieced signature quilt completed by the Ladies Aid Society of the Altona Methodist Episcopal Church in Pipestone in 1924.

"I think this quilt is very interesting because of the lower left corner -- it has a swastika," said Hall, adding that the design has nothing to do with the Nazi Party for which the cross bars now signify. "The swastika (in those days) represented good luck and life."

Hall also appreciates the work in a log cabin quilt displayed -- a quilt made by Mrs. Ichabod Smith as early as 1880.

"Traditionally, the center square (in the log cabin pattern) is red to represent the hearth," she said. "This quilt, I have a sneaking suspicion that the lady used whatever pieces she could get her hands on in the house. I think she used her husband's ties."

The Pipestone County quilt exhibit will remain in place through April at the museum, located at 113 S. Hiawatha Ave. The museum is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

Julie Buntjer

Julie Buntjer joined the Globe newsroom in December 2003, after working more than nine years for weekly newspapers. A native of Worthington, she has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism. Find more of her stories of farm life, family and various other tidbits at

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