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Visit the museum — you’ll be glad you did

By Shari Pierce
Special to The PREVIEW

Photo courtesy Shari Pierce This is one of two Dresden Plate quilts created by Pagosa quilt artist Judy Jordan that are on display as part of an exhibit at the San Juan Historical Society Museum. The quilts in the exhibit are but a few of the fascinating items and artifacts at the museum — located at 96 Pagosa St. on the east end of Pagosa Springs next to the bridge and open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Photo courtesy Shari Pierce
This is one of two Dresden Plate quilts created by Pagosa quilt artist Judy Jordan that are on display as part of an exhibit at the San Juan Historical Society Museum. The quilts in the exhibit are but a few of the fascinating items and artifacts at the museum — located at 96 Pagosa St. on the east end of Pagosa Springs next to the bridge and open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Hundreds of people have visited the historical society museum this summer.

Don’t be left out — plan a trip soon.

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; Mrs. Ruby Sisson’s Blanco Basin school desk, welded art by local artist Worthe Crouse; Dr. Ellsworth’s dental chair and drill and oh 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 drills, saws or nail guns, just elbow grease, skill and hard work.

The Hatcher Mercantile Company was one of our community’s early stores. Their ornate cash register is on display as part of the general store display.

And, this just scratches the surface of what you’ll find in the front of the museum. In the back portion of the museum are household displays including a kitchen, dad’s room, sewing machines and musical instruments.

A bonus of visiting the museum are the many photos of early Pagosa Springs and the people who formed our community.

Quilt display

This summer’s special quilt display is “Stitches in Time.” Many of the quilts on display were graciously loaned by local quilt artist Judy Jordan.

Two of the quilts are of the Dresden Plate pattern.

The first is made from fabrics that date from the 1920s to 1940s. The “blades” of the plates were sewn into rings when they were purchased by Judy Jordan at an antique store in Dodge City, Kansas. In 1998, Judy made these into a quilt. She replaced a few of the blades that were worn. She then appliqued them onto blocks, added the center circles and buttonhole stitching. Next the blocks were assembled and quilted.

The back of the quilt includes feed sacks and unbleached muslin. Some of the antique feed sacks were collected in Kansas.

The second Dresden Plate quilt was a treasure that was found when Judy’s grandmother Bertha Putt “Mam-Maw” passed. In her box were three quilts and cut out pieces for another. Each of Judy’s three older sisters received one of the finished quilts and Judy was lucky enough to receive the pieces from 1930s fabrics. Ma-Maw was Judy’s paternal grandmother who taught her to crochet, knit and sew.

Judy completed this quilt in 1996.

A coverlet of interest to those interested in the history of our region is our Community Redwork Top. This coverlet belongs to the historical society museum and is a favorite of visitors year after year.

Early dyes used in dying threads were not very stable and tended to lose their color. In the late 1800s, a red dye was created in Turkey that was much more stable and held its color. At this time, embroidery became more popular. Much work was done using “Turkey red” on inexpensive muslin fabric. This type of needlework has become known as “redwork.”

The natural availability of the Turkey red floss and muslin made it possible for many to have decorated linens. This type of work lost its popularity as dyes improved and craftswomen were able to use a variety of colors in their projects.

This coverlet is a redwork coverlet, framed with a red fabric binding. It is made of 20 blocks, each depicting a different aspect of the early Archuleta County and Pagosa Springs community. Dates on the blocks range from 1889 to 1905, thus it is very fragile. This community coverlet has been conserved by being hand basted to a muslin backing to give it strength and protect the back of the embroidery stitches.

This redwork community coverlet features delightful embroidery work of musical instruments, a lady stitching, a government building and more. As with the pine tree quilt, it also features names of early settlers to the area”— in this case hundreds of names.

The “Town and County Official Block” alone contains 33 names: Wm. Macht, Chas. Freeman, J.E. Rossell, L.W. Smith, H.J. Bostwick, R.A. Howe, E.M. Taylor, C.W. Price, J.S. Brown, A.D. Archuleta, F.H. Buckles, P. Delgado, A.J. Nossaman, A. Brandt, T. Acord, Gean Gross, F.A. Byrne, V.C. McGirr, N.L. Hayden, J.C. Dowell, C.W. Cochran, J.B. Martinez, P.J. Fisher, J.L. Dowell, J.E.N. Sparks, C.B. Weeks, E.H. Chase, R.P. Furrow, J.M. Laughlin, W.E. Furrow, G.D. Weeks, J.T. Martinez and E. Lacy.

Hazella Haptenstall donated this redwork top, a granddaughter of early Pagosa Springs pioneers Joe and Hazel Macht.

Gift shop

The society offers a gift shop featuring a wide variety of items of interest to visitors of the museum. This season, the gift shop has been greatly expanded and more items are yet to come. Southwest history books, photos, quilting books and patterns, wall hangings, tote bags and purses 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 jeans 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 gift shop is important to the success of the museum. Sales from the shop are utilized to offset operating expenses.

The museum does not receive operating funds from the town or county so community support is vital to the continuation of the museum.

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. You’ll be glad you did.

This story was posted on August 1, 2013.