You are invited to view an amazing and priceless treasure of Pagosa Springs history that on display at the San Juan Historical Society Museum this summer as part of “Pagosa Springs Quilting Heritage” — this summer’s special quilt exhibit at the San Juan Historical Society Museum. This piece is a community redwork coverlet, which is in the permanent collection of the Society.
Community Redwork Top
Early dyes used in dying threads were not very stable and tended to lose their color. In the late 1800s, a red dye was created in Turkey that was much more stable and held its color. At this time, embroidery became more popular. Much work was done using “Turkey red” on inexpensive muslin fabric. This type of needlework has become known as “redwork.”
The natural availability of the Turkey red floss and muslin made it possible for many to have decorated linens. This type of work lost its popularity as dyes improved and craftswomen were able to use a variety of colors in their projects.
This coverlet is a redwork coverlet, framed with a red fabric binding. It is made of 20 blocks, each depicting a different aspect of the early Archuleta County and Pagosa Springs community.
Dates on the blocks range from 1889 to 1905, thus it is very fragile. This community coverlet has been conserved by being hand basted to a muslin backing to give it strength and protect the back of the embroidery stitches.
This redwork community coverlet features delightful embroidery work of musical instruments, a lady stitching, a government building and more. It also features names of early settlers to the area — in this case hundreds of names.
The “Town and County Official Block” alone contains 33 names: Wm. Macht, Chas. Freeman, J.E. Rossell, L.W. Smith, H.J. Bostwick, R.A. Howe, E.M. Taylor, C.W. Price, J.S. Brown, A.D. Archuleta, F.H. Buckles, P. Delgado, A.J. Nossaman, A. Brandt, T. Acord, Gean Gross, F.A. Byrne, V.C. McGirr, N.L. Hayden, J.C. Dowell, C.W. Cochran, J.B. Martinez, P.J. Fisher, J.L. Dowell, J.E.N. Sparks, C.B. Weeks, E.H. Chase, R.P. Furrow, J.M. Laughlin, W.E. Furrow, G.D. Weeks, J.T. Martinez and E. Lacy.
Hazella Haptenstall donated this redwork top, a granddaughter of early Pagosa Springs pioneers Joe and Hazel Macht.
Other quilts in this special exhibit date from 1840 to 1960. They are reminiscent of the quilts that would have been brought to Pagosa Springs with the first settlers and those that would have been, and were, made as our community settled and grew. There are have quilts from the Macht, Webb and Adams families who were very early settlers to this area. There are also have several friendship quilts and some wonderful crazy quilts that date from 1890 to 1900.
The museum gift shop offers a nice selection of quilting and regional history books, tote bags and purses, historic playing cards and old photographs from this area.
Admission to the museum is free. Donations are appreciated as expenses for operation of the museum are covered through donations and gift shop sales.
The museum is open Tuesday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 96 Pagosa St., the corner of U.S. 160 and First Street in downtown Pagosa Springs.