Wednesday, August 13, 2014

A Family Treasure - "Streets of Boston" Tile Quilt

In July while vacationing in Vermont my husband and I had the pleasure to stop by the Shelburne Museum to view a family treasure, a quilt crafted by my great-grandmother Martha Kimberly (1860 - 1929) when she was fourteen years old. She constructed the quilt with her eleven-year old sister Augusta (1862 - 1952) as a wedding gift for their older sister Eleanor, known as Ellen May (1850 - 1927), pictured below, in 1873.1 Martha, Augusta, and Ellen were the daughters of Gilead and Abigail (Baldwin) Kimberly and were a farming family from the Nepaug village of New Hartford, Connecticut.

The tile quilt, named "Streets of Boston," is a patchwork similar to a "crazy quilt" design.


I learned about the quilt from a book entitled Tile Quilt Revival: Reinventing a Forgotten Form on Google Books shortly after the book was published in 2010. The book mentions that the quilt was on display in Japan in 1997 as part of the Shelburne Museum collection and that some of the symbols on the quilt represent locations in Boston, namely, that the center block is Boston Common, the star at the top is Fort Independence, and the double circle is the Bunker Hill Monument. The book indicates further that these symbols were common on nineteenth-century maps to mark historic sites. 3

The quilt was donated to the Shelburne Museum by Eleanor Pedersen Craig (1911 - 2011), Ellen's granddaughter, in 1982. Along with the quilt Eleanor donated several family photographs that I have posted to the Photos page of this blog site. Eleanor also photocopied pages from the Baldwin-Kimberly Family Bible that I have transcribed and posted to the Family Bible page of this blog site.

I wish to thank Barbara Rathburn, Registrar at the Shelburne Museum, for her cooperation and assistance in viewing these family treasures and for her permission in posting the photos. I also wish to extend my gratitude to Eleanor P. Craig for her generosity and thoughtfulness in sharing the quilt and photos in her donation to the Shelburne Museum.

1Martha and Augusta Kimberly, "Streets of Boston," quilt, 1873, item 1982-2, quilt no. 10-601, Quilt Collection, Shelburne Museum, Shelburne, Vermont. Martha and Augusta Kimberly, age 14 and 11 respectfully, made the quilt as a wedding gift for their older sister Ellen May (1850-1927), who was affectionately called Nellie.
2Martha and Augusta Kimberly, "Streets of Boston," quilt photographed by Carol Swaine-Kuzel, 3 July 2014.
3Carol Gilham Jones and Bobby Finley, Tile Quilt Revival: Reinventing a Forgotten Form (Concord, Calif.: C&T Publishing Inc., 2010), 6.

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