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Include a visit to the museum in your plans

By Shari Pierce
Special to The PREVIEW

As you are planning your family weekend — maybe a trip to the park, a visit to the folk festival, floating down the river or some shopping at local stores, be sure to include some time for a visit to the San Juan Historical Society Museum. In addition to this summer’s quilt display, the museum plays host to a wide variety of exhibits.

The front of the museum houses displays related to the business and social aspects of our community ,including railroad memorabilia, tack, saddles, farming equipment, Dr. Ellsworth’s dental chair and so much more.

Tools of the trade

Many hand tools were used by settlers to Archuleta County to craft their homes and places of business.

Drills, levels and a beautiful hand planer are on display at Pagosa Springs’ own museum. You are invited down to view the display of hand tools. You’ll gain an appreciation for the physical labor that went into building our community. No electric saws or nail guns, just elbow grease, skill and hard work.

Over some very rough roads, wagons brought some of the earliest families to Pagosa Springs. No AAA services were available to repair the wagons. View the wagon hub on display along with the wrench used to loosen this hub. You will gain a new appreciation of the strength and toughness of these men and women.

Quilt display

Photo courtesy Shari Pierce The museum is featuring “Star Spangled Quilts” this season. “Morning in America” is part of this special display. Hand-pieced and hand-appliquéd by Cindy Vermillion Hamilton in 2003 and 2004, it is a tribute to former President Ronald Reagan. See this, and other star-spangled quilts, at the museum from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.

Photo courtesy Shari Pierce
The museum is featuring “Star Spangled Quilts” this season. “Morning in America” is part of this special display. Hand-pieced and hand-appliquéd by Cindy Vermillion Hamilton in 2003 and 2004, it is a tribute to former President Ronald Reagan. See this, and other star-spangled quilts, at the museum from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.

We celebrate the 200th anniversary of Francis Scott Key penning the poem “Defence of Fort McHenry” with our “Star Spangled Quilts” display. This poem, set to music and named the “Star Spangled Banner,” became a favorite patriotic song. A bill passed by congress and signed into law by President Herbert Hoover in 1931 made the “Star Spangled Banner” our national anthem.

“Where Liberty Dwells” was hand-pieced, hand-appliquéd and hand-quilted by Cindy Vermillion Hamilton in 2004. Hamilton wrote that her “Inspiration for the 84 (inch) x 84 (inch) medallion quilt came from my desire to use many of the wonderful patriotic reproduction fabrics that were created just for quilters during the early years of the new millennium. The wide outer border allowed me to use large pieces of the historical toile depicting George Washington and Benjamin Franklin’s apotheosis, or ascent to god-like status. The unusual ‘ball’ border appears on a quilt made in North Carolina c. 1815, about the time period in which a quilt such as this one might have been made.”

Hamilton’s “Morning in America” was also constructed in 2003 and 2004. As is her signature style, Hamilton hand-pieced and hand-quilted this quilt celebrating a piece of our nation’s history.

Hamilton relates, “This quilt was designed to utilize large, uncut sections of the wonderful red eagle print. The top was stitched in April 2003, as the war in Iraq began. As I quilted it, the 60th anniversary of D-Day was observed, the WWII Memorial in Washington, D.C., was dedicated, and the nation mourned the passing of Ronald Reagan. I was searching for a name for this quilt as these world events unfolded. Finally I decided to name it in remembrance of a great president, Ronald Reagan, who inspired many to believe his campaign slogan, ‘Morning in America.’”

Gift shop

The society offers a gift shop featuring a wide variety of items of interest to visitors of the museum. The gift shop is important to the success of the museum. Sales from the shop are utilized to offset operating expenses.

This season, the gift shop has been expanded. Southwest history books, photos, quilting books and patterns, tote bags, rocks and home decor are just a few of the items to be found in the shop.

Society members also offer handmade items for sale. Choose from covered wagon dolls, postcards, tote bags and jean purses to find the perfect gift for someone special.

Free admission

Admission to the museum is free; however, donations are greatly appreciated to help with operating expenses such as utilities, insurance and payroll.

The museum is located at 96 Pagosa St. on the east end of Pagosa Springs next to the bridge and is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Please plan a visit to the museum soon. The museum will close for the season on Sept. 20.

This story was posted on August 29, 2014.