Exchange Place Quilters|
By Eleanor deNobriga
The quilters started as a group of volunteers to demonstrate the craft of quilting, which was a necessity in an 1850’s home. When demonstrating during festival days, visitors to Exchange Place inquired if the group quilted for the public. The group realized this was an opportunity to render a needed service which could contribute financially to the restoration program of Exchange Place -- this was in 1972.
The group first started quilting at the Preston Hills Presbyterian church. Later space was provided at Exchange Place in the restored Preston Home. The quilters moved in and were there for a number of years, meeting the challenges presented. These included things such as remembering to knock the wasp nest down before entering the Necessary; using their “show and tell” quilts to camouflage office equipment during tours; heating the room by the fireplace (after remembering to open the damper because the groundhog had chewed through the ductwork); quilting with their feet in cardboard boxes for warmth; and quilting all day without hot coffee and only a cold lunch to eat. They laugh now, remembering.
They have other memories -- quilting classes; quilt shows (displaying over 100 quilts a show), gibing basic quilting lessons to wives of foreign employees of Eastman; stocking and selling calico fabric for the Gaines store; and being contracted by the Eastman Camera club to quilt ten traditional quilt squares to be given as the major award for the Kodak International Salon of Photography.
Roseland, a home listed on the National Register, was moved in 1991 across the road from the Preston home. After restoration was complete in 1995, the quilters moved into “their room” with indoor plumbing, heat, plenty of light and a coffee pot! They still have challenges every now and then, but with their background, it’s a win-win situation.
Not only does this volunteer group put in thousands of tiny stitches, they give countless other volunteer hours to Exchange Place -- they bake, then help sell the goodies; give tours; help with the school program; demonstrate when asked, including Pioneer Days in the area schools; make and repair costumes; and work on the demolition and reconstruction crews for the farm complex.
During a stitching day, you can gather culinary hints; medical advice; solve a government problem; have a group therapy session (it works and it’s free); and lastly, make a financial contribution to the restoration and needs of Exchange Place.
Exchange Place Quilters strive to be a service to Exchange Place and their community.