Tuesday, June 20, 2017

UNIONVILLE: The Quilt has a home!

The Unionville Tricentennial Community Quilt finally has a home!
The quilt was created in 1982 to mark Chester County's 300th birthday, but since then it has been largely out of sight.
On Monday, June 19, 35 years to the day after it was unveiled to the public, the quilt received an official welcome at its new home: the lobby of the Unionville-Chadds Ford School District Office.
Three of the original quilters -- Bette McConnell, Jill Benjamin and Ella Sestrich (the former owner of Sestrich's General Store) -- were on hand, and Jill gave a presentation about the quilt's history.
In early 1982 Nancy Fenstermacher (one of the Bakers at Red Lion) came up with the idea of creating a quilt to honor the village, which had been recently placed on the National Register of Historic Places, largely thanks to the efforts of John and Pat Montague.
About two dozen women, working from sketches by Ron Fenstermacher and Barbara Churchville, sewed the blocks of the "album quilt." Everyone worked from a common pool of fabric to prevent the colors from clashing. Jill said the women ranged in age from 17 to 81 and had "all skill levels" when it came to sewing.
The subjects included the Farm Show (now the Unionville Community Fair), the Unionville Academy, the Grange Hall (which has been incorporated into the current Grace Fellowship Church building), a fox-hunting scene, Indian Hannah, the Unionville High School (now the elementary school), and various other historic scenes around town. 
Nancy Fenstermacher herself sewed the central block, depicting a map of the town. (A key hanging next to the quilt gives details about each block.)
After the individual blocks were created and sewn together, the women spent April and May 1982 doing the quilting stitching, using an oyster shell motif as a nod to the three oyster bars that once flourished in Unionville (Jill said oyster shells were used to pave Wollaston Road, and she still find them in her garden).
Jill ended her presentation by thanking school district superintendent Dr. John Sanville for providing the quilt with a permanent home where people can see it and it can be protected. Dr. Sanville said he loves having the quilt hanging in the office and receives frequent compliments about it from visitors. 
"I've learned so much about our local history" from the quilt, he said.
The quilt square depicting the Grange Hall and the Unionville Cemetery. Note the intricate oyster shell quilting. 

A fox-hunting scene, created by Jill Benjamin.
The entire quilt.

Bette McConnell, Jill Benjamin, Ella Sestrich and Superintendent Dr. John Sanville at the June 19 presentation.

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