Back in the bicentennial, a group of concerned local women from the Water Mill area took it upon themselves to create not just any old fundraiser to keep the town’s beloved, eponymous main feature churning and in good condition, but one that embraced a little piece of what that the water-powered grist mill’s hydropower was used in part to create — cloth.
“This years’ quilt show happens to be particularly fantastic, and one reason why is we managed to reach out to a lot more quilters so there’s a wider range style, color, and shape,” says Ann Lombardo, long-time board member and former president of the Water Mill Museum. A big part of that was bringing this old art into the modern century, using social media to gather more quilters into the fold. Reaching out that way to more quilters cast a wider net and consequently, this year we have a much greater selection and variety of quilts in the mix — we had to actually to cap it off!” she says.
Along with the dozens of quilts on display and for sale is the star cache of the show: a group of original quilts donated by Water Mill resident Warren Fuller, created by his wife and expert quilter, Bonnie, one of which will be part of the annual raffle held at the event. The museum has also regained the original 1976 quilt created by the women who first began the mill-saving efforts, which is on display in the institution’s permanent collection.
In addition to a rainbow of quilts dating from the 1800s to the modern day, there will also be aprons, purses, pot holders and a plethora of other quilted treasures, including small quilts for children and infants, something that holds a special place in the heart of Lombardo.
“The antique children’s quilts we have are incredible. About 11 years ago, I bought one — a beautiful white and mint green quilt embroidered with animals. My son had just married and I thought, well, maybe he and his wife will have a child one day.” Three days later, Lombardo’s son announced that he and his new wife were expecting, and the gorgeous quilt became a special family heirloom. “The old, old history is important and great,” says Lombardo, “but the history we’re making is important to the future, too.”
The mill opened in 1644 as a grist mill built by Edward Howell, and was moved several times over the next 100 years until it sat on its current spot at 41 Old Mill Road, and was used for everything from milling grain to paper production, as well as dyeing and weaving cloth.
Admission to the Quilt Show is $5, and all proceeds from entrance fees and quilt sales go directly to the not-for-profit Water Mill Museum. The annual show began August 17 and runs through September 3, and is open Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday; it is closed Wednesdays.