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Thursday, July 11, 2013 03:39 pm

Something old, something new

Names of locals feature on replica quilt

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Vachel Lindsay Home State Historic Site administrator Jennie Battles, left, and Prairie Arts Chapter Embroiderer’s Guild of America president Hope Wright hold a piece of the new quilt that the VLH is replicating from a 1912 quilt, shown to the left on o
PHOTO BY ANITA STIENSTRA

There’s a new quilt coming to town and you’re invited to have your name embroidered on it. The Vachel Lindsay Home State Historic site and Vachel Lindsay Association are re-creating a century-old signature quilt that has 520 names of Springfield folk from 1912 on it.

The original quilt was a gift to poet Vachel Lindsay’s sister, Olive, and her husband, Dr. Paul Wakefield, who were medical missionaries in China from 1905 to 1928. Well-liked and revered in Springfield circles, the couple received the quilt as a token of thanks from the community when they were home for an extended stay.

Many of the signatures on the 1912 quilt include parishioners of First Christian Church. Other names come from ladies in a literary organization, The Anti-Rust Club, a group whose name was taken from a Robert Browning poem. On display at the home currently, the quilt was donated to the Lindsay Home in 2002 by Olive’s daughters, Catharine Ward and Martha Falcone. It adorns the bed of the first-floor bedroom.

Vachel Lindsay Home Site Administrator Jennie Battles, ever hardworking and always brainstorming ideas to promote the home alongside Illinois Historic Preservation Agency Manager Justin Blandford, thought of re-creating the quilt by gathering current-day names and quilting a contemporary version of the bedspread. Battles has worked for IHPA, the organization that operates the Vachel Lindsay Home, for almost 30 years and managed the home since it was renovated in 1994 after being given to the state of Illinois in 1990.

Joining Battles on the project by embroidering names on the new quilt are individuals from Springfield’s Prairie Arts Chapter Embroiderer’s Guild of America. Hope Wright, PACEGA president, says the time-consuming and intricate work, using single-ply floss and the smallest needles the group can thread, “averages two hours per name. We bought extra magnification because the names are so small.” Members involved in the volunteer venture, besides Wright, are Martha Kelly, Avis McKenney, Jane Ehrenhart, Susanne Wall, Saundra Scheuer-Syfert, Barbara Peake, Roberta Reif and Caren Bryant.

The group enjoys performing community service and is always busy teaching, learning and preserving the needle arts heritage. PACEGA’s other area projects include approximately 100 pieces of embroidered linens for the Dana-Thomas House, as well as ornaments for Festival of Trees and bookmarks for Lincoln Library’s children’s program.

Quilters who are piecing the signed octagon sections and space blocks together are Doris Krake, Vickki Taft and Pat Kuhns from Douglas Avenue United Methodist Church. There are about 20 names on each octagon section and 20 octagons in the quilt. Approximately a dozen embroidered names are on each space of white between the octagons.

Don’t miss this opportunity to have your name on a piece of Springfield history. For as low a donation as $5, you can join other locals and have your signature on the replica. But you are urged to provide your autograph soon. Battles will stop collecting names July 31.

It’s easy to get your name on the quilt. Visit the home at 603 S. Fifth Street, located south of Illinois Executive Mansion, and sign a Centennial Quilt Project form while providing a check or cash donation for any amount over $5. Forms are also available online at www.vachellindsayhome.org. Download the PDF, fill it out and mail it in with your donation.

Funds benefit the Vachel Lindsay Home. The new quilt will be showcased this fall. The Vachel Lindsay Home State Historic Site is open year-round Tuesday-Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more info, phone Jennie Battles at 524-0901.

Contact Anita Stienstra at astienstra@illinoistimes.com

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