Upstate Heritage Quilt Trail in South Carolina Doesn’t Stop for Summer Heat

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Cynthia Leggett with the Upstate Heritage Quilt Trail brings us more news of additions to the Quilt Trail in South Carolina.

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The Depot, home of the Westminster Chamber of Commerce, has joined the Upstate Heritage Quilt Trail. Denise McCormick originally made the Railroad Crossing quilt and is an active member of the Westminster community.

This quilt block is an example of some half-dozen patterns called Railroad Crossing. As railroads expanded during the late-19th and early-20th centuries, rural roads were relocated and realigned, and residents learned to “look both ways” before driving their wagons across the intersections of roads and tracks. A new railroad line altered the landscape, local travel patterns, and attitudes toward technology and commerce.

Westminster’s Depot has a long history. It was opened in 1911 with two waiting rooms and a ticket office. Double tracking was added in 1918 along with a freight area. Albert Zimmerman, the town’s first Mayor, was the first ticket and freight agent at the original depot and James Arthur King was station manager.

The train depot was acquired by the city in the 1970’s after passenger service was discontinued. It has served in many capacities – library, health department, civic center and now home to the Chamber of Commerce. Extensive renovation occurred in 1976 for the bicentennial. The building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places after being lovingly restored according to National Register guidelines in 2009.

If Depot walls could share stories, they would be of Presidents, soldiers and their brides, and ordinary people who passed through town on the rail line just outside the door.  It has been home to many social, political and cultural events over the years, and is available for rent to the public for meetings, weddings, receptions, reunions, and other social events.

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The Clemson Montessori School (CMS), located at 204 Pendleton Road in Clemson, has joined the Upstate Heritage Quilt Trail (UHQT). The Trail’s mission is to “honor and preserve quilting traditions while promoting tourism through the public display of quilts and painted quilt blocks.” CMS has a strong tradition of sewing arts, so participating in this project was not only a wonderful learning experience for the students but a chance to share the 36 year history of the school.

In 1978, CMS’s Gail Paul wrote one of the first sewing curriculums for preschool children, incorporating Montessori’s ideas and philosophy into needle arts. Today, sewing has become a part of many Montessori schools across the country. Since the late 70’s, CMS has included sewing as part of its curriculum, culminating in quilt making and embroidery with the elementary students.

Starting in January 2011, the elementary students got involved in the quilt project by touring the UHQT wooden quilts hung on public buildings and homes in Oconee County, listening to stories about quilt history from quilter Verla Warther, and experimenting with the geometry of quilts and pattern development. With the help of Judy Luke, Fran Kaiser, and Ellie Elzerman at CMS, students selected a quilt pattern called Friendship. This is one of many names applied to this pattern. It was a popular choice for signature album quilts from the height of their popularity in the mid-19th century up to the present.  Typically, plain white fabric is used in the center, so that inscriptions are easier to read.

Once the pattern was selected, the students visited Heirlooms and Comforts Quilt Shop in Central to choose their fabric. They then spent many hours making individual squares for the final quilt to be hung in the main elementary building located at 207 Pendleton Road. Cindy Blair, Jane Boling and Verla Warther, all volunteers with the UHQT, helped students transfer the quilt squares from fabric to paint on the wooden quilt. Their kaleidoscope of color will be an opportunity to tell stories about CMS, and honor its buildings, people, and history.

For more information, pictures and a map of the driving trail, go to (www.UHQT.org).

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