She’s not a historian, and she has only lived in Red Hook for 15 years, making her a newcomer by some people’s reckoning. But when the Town of Red Hook proposed that she head a project to make a Bicentennial quilt last May, Diana Louie gulped – and then dedicated the ensuing seven months, her workshop space on West Market Street and her quilting expertise to get the job done. The quilt commemorates a dozen historically significant buildings in the Town, stitched on squares by volunteer fabric artists, including Louie, Sandra Martin, Trish Cowperthwaite, MaryAnna Egan, Evelyn Urbom, Helen Fairbarin, Deidra Thorpe-Clark, Jane Winne, Tibbie Klose, Gail Maury and Liese Burke.
Louie designed and patterned the squares based on photos of the buildings provided by the Historical Society. “Some of these buildings look different than they do today. I drew them according to the old pictures. Some of them are, in fact, no longer standing.” There are representations of the Cookingham House, the Firehouse and Library, the Elmendorph Inn and many others. A few of the textile artists who worked on the squares were connected to the buildings in some way.
“It’s been a huge project,” says Louie, “and people have come into the store just to tell stories about certain places, like the Tobacco Factory. And when the finished quilt is unveiled at Red Hook’s Apple Blossom Festival next May, learning about them all will be a great opportunity for people who have lived here all their lives, maybe not knowing anything about these buildings.”
After that event, the quilt will be exhibited at different venues around the Town for the duration of the Bicentennial and find a permanent home in Town Hall. The Village Fabric Shoppe will have a rotating display of vintage and antique quilts in its gallery space during the year as well.
Louie tells me that the Village Fabric Shoppe has been in continuous business for 50 years, with at least four owners that she knows of for sure. She has been proprietress for seven years in a space that was once a cabinet shop. “There is still a coffin table in the basement. I’ve tried to think of what to do with it here in the Shoppe.”
She has enjoyed learning more about all the buildings in the Town, and plans to offer redwork patterns in reduced size of each of the squares, so that quilters can make their own smaller replica of the commemorative quilt at home. Meanwhile, in-process photos of the quilt can be seen at https://villagefabricshoppe.blogspot.com.
Fabric and materials for the Bicentennial quilt were donated by the Village Fabric Shoppe, Liese Burke, Sandra Martin and others. Quilting of the piece is being provided by Teresa Husman of Prairie House Quilting in Kansas City, Missouri – who was, coincidentally, born and raised in the Town of Red Hook. Call (845) 758-8541 for more information.