Stitched just in time

SHEPHERDSTOWN – Another element in the 250th anniversary of the town’s founding is coming together as crafters here finish a commemorative quilt showcasing more than 500 signatures of town residents.

The 5-by-6 feet quilt features the 250 logo front-and-center as well as depictions of Shepherdstown landmarks such as the grand Rumsey Monument and McMurran Hall, named for the man who served as the first president of what today is Shepherd University.

Kris MacNichols, of Shepherdstown, looks at the center logo of the Shepherdstown anniversary quilt as it hangs Tuesday in the fellowship hall at Trinity Episcopal Church. More than 27 yards of embroidery floss was used to stitch the tree’s foliage in the center panel, MacNichols said. The quilt includes the signatures of 528 of the town’s residents.

The quilt is being stitched together by members of the Tuesday Craft Group that meets each week in the Fellowship Hall at Trinity Episcopal Church in Shepherdstown.

Peter Smith, one of the organizers of the Shepherdstown 250 celebration, said the finished quilt will be formally presented to the town during a Nov. 11 anniversary celebration.

After that, the quilt will be displayed in Shepherdstown’s new Town Hall on King Street. When the town builds its new library, the quilt will go on display there, Smith said.

Shepherdstown is the oldest town in West Virginia, residents here will tell you, though citizens of another Eastern Panhandle village – Romney in nearby Hampshire County – insist it’s their town that lays claim to that distinction.

It’s a controversy that never can be settled; nearly a century before the formation of West Virginia, the governor of Virginia signed the incorporation papers for both towns on the same day: Dec. 23, 1762. No one’s sure which town’s paperwork got the OK first.

Shepherdstown’s birthday revelry kicked off with last year’s 250-themed Christmas parade through the town and in the months since has included a lecture series, living history demonstrations, art and writing contests, a home and garden tour, and more.

The signatures for the quilt were collected during last year’s Christmas in Shepherdstown festivities. Anyone living in the town’s 25443 Zip code was invited to donate $5 or more and sign the quilt on cloth strips using special gel pens filled with archival-quality ink.

The quilting style even fits in with the 250th anniversary. Signature quilts, sometimes called friendship quilts, were popular in early America.

The $2,800 collected during the signature drive paid for the cost of the quilting materials, the services of a long-arm quilter and for a glass case to display the finished piece, Smith said.

Wendy Mosely of the Tuesday Craft Group said that members were asked in early 2011 about creating a signature quilt. Since 2007, the group has been coming together in Trinity’s fellowship hall on Tuesday afternoons to socialize and work on individual crafts including knitting, crocheting, embroidery, quilting, needlepoint and other projects.

For the women involved, taking on the project meant setting aside their own work for months. Janet Maple created the design for the quilt incorporating the 250 logo, space for embroidered blocks depicting local buildings and then space for hundreds of signatures.

Noreen Albright and other members designed the blocks, which were embroidered by Mosley, Mary Alvarez, Rozzy Garner, Diane Kradel, Carol Lapham, Kris MacNichols, Bonnie Sitman, Doreen Wootton and Suzy Yates.

MacNichols also embroidered the central logo, and Albright, Maple, Moseley and Loretta Homan handled the quilting work itself.

Work on the 250 celebration goes back even farther – ever since 2009 when Meredith Wait, the head of the town’s Small Business Association, created a steering committee to begin planning ways to mark the milestone.

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