The Norwalk Quilt Trail opening reception will be held on Saturday from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Rowayton Historical Society's Pinkney House. Sip colorful "Madras" cocktails and get a sneak preview of some of the quilts that will be on exhibit through the summer. More than 40 quilts will be on display in Norwalk at the many cultural heritage and tourism sites around the city. Come see antique quilts hand-stitched before the Civil War and Bicentennial quilts. There are quilts made by children and others by seniors, celebrating life, marriage, and death. The Norwalk Quilt Trail is the first citywide collaboration among local cultural sites to showcase the vibrancy of our shared heritage. Pior to the Pinkney House reception on Saturday, a free quilt airing will be held from 1 to 4 p.m. as well as an exhibit opening: "A Common Thread: Family History Told through Quilting" (adults $5). For information, contact the RHS at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Those who love the homespun beauty of quilts have a feast in store in the Norwalk Quilt Trail. The series of exhibits from May through mid-November.
The Quilt Trail spotlights 100 quilts made and collected in Norwalk. Together, the colorful quilts tell the story of the life and the changing fortunes of this area, from the early 1800s to the maritime era in the mid-1850s to 1900s machine age to the present.
The settings for the exhibits also represent many eras, from the Rowayton Historical Society's Pinkney House (c. 1820) to the Stepping Stones Museum for Children, which opened in 2000. The full list includes the Norwalk Historical Society, the Norwalk Museum, Lockwood-Mathews Mansion Museum, the Sheffield Island Lighthouse, and the SoNo Switch Tower Museum. Related exhibits will be presented at City Hall and local libraries. Each exhibit has a story to tell.
Navigating the quilt trail
"A Common Thread: Family History Told through Quilting" at the Rowayton Historical Society illustrates how quilts chronicled family life, telling stories of family love, loss and community in embroidered, patchwork and applique quilts, including a signature quilt from one of Norwalk's oldest families, the Raymonds. The influences introduced during the boom years of Norwalk's oystering and shipping trade can be seen in a 19th century red and white Hawaiian quilt. Two 19th century ribbon quilts made from hatbands, ribbons and clothing tags manufactured in the factories of Norwalk represent the changes wrought by the machine age, while yo-yo quilts from the 1930s show the mood during the period after World War I. (May 14-Nov. 11 www.rowaytonhistoricalsociety.org or 203-831-0136).
The Norwalk Historical Society will show "Collected & Cherished: Quilts made and collected in Norwalk" featuring quilts made from 1850 to 1950, including log cabin designs in silk, baskets-and-wreath designs in cotton. Of special interest from Norwalk's early seafaring days is the Mariner's Compass quilt designed by a sea captain, Charles Selleck, and pieced by his wife Samantha in 1860. Six of the Society's own rare quilts have been restored, thanks to a grant from the Coby Foundation and Gail Wall. (May 14-Oct. 10. www.norwalkhistoricalsociety.org or 203-846-0525)
The "Craze of Crazy Quilts," a display of a style popular in the latter 19th century, is on view in the Music Room of the 1864 Lockwood-Mathews House (May 14-Oct. 16; www.lockwoodmathewsmansion.com or 203-838-9799), while "Against the Elements: Keeping Warm at the Lighthouse" at the Sheffield Lighthouse displays vintage quilts from private collections along with three quilts that are permanently on display in bedrooms in the 10-room 1868 lighthouse to show what life was like for the families of 19th century light keepers. (weekends May 28-June 26, daily June 27-September 5; www.seaport.org or 203-838-9444).
The charming quilts made by Norwalk Children from the 1970s to today will be on display at the Stepping Stones Museum for Children (June 30-Oct. 10; 203-899-0606 or steppingstonesmuseum.org) while "Trains, Planes and Automobiles," featuring quilts with transportation themes showing the impact of transportation technology on American life will be at the SoNo Switch Tower Museum. The museum is housed in the original Signal Station 44, built in 1896 (May 14-Oct. 30; http://www.westctnrhs.org or 203- 246.6958.
More information on the exhibits can be found at www.norwalkquilttrail.org.