The 1876 Centennial Quilt Project. A 19 Month Adventure

The original Centennial Quilt .. made in 1876 by M E C...or is it E M C ?
I would like to especially thank Robert Harrison Photography for allowing us to use his amazing photographs!

In October of 2015 eighteen of us began an interesting journey. Recreating a quilt that was made in Connecticut in 1876 as a centennial remembrance. This quilt was purchased at an estate sale in about 1998 by a Connecticut resident, Barbara F. Menasian for the small sum of $25.00!  We know nothing of the maker except for her initials, and we are not even able to decipher how those initials are read. 

From left to right;
 Karen B. Alexander, quilt historian, Anne Dawson, the wonder woman who made the project possible, and Barbara F. Menasian, the woman who had the foresight to buy an amazing quilt when she saw it!

Fast forward to 2015 when Barbara posted an image of it on a FaceBook group where Karen B. Alexander, a quilt historian and contributing member of the American Quilt Study Group chanced to see the photograph. Well, the rest of this happenstance becomes the story of our 19-month project. it was filled with highs and a few lows for some of us. Anne Dawson, quilt restorationist, quilt shop owner, quilt pattern drafter and quilter extraordinaire, became the person who painstakingly drafted these intricate patterns as she created her reconstruction of the quilt. her quilt followed the original as completely as possible. she searched out reproduction fabrics that would do the quilt justice - even having Spoonflower reproduce some fabrics for her when similar patterns were not available.

Most of us were initially charmed by the unusual round blocks in this quilt. I found the quilt to be quirky and, to my mind, unusually bright and busy given the time period in which it was made. I started this for the circle blocks I suppose, not fully comprehending at the get-go the intricate work that lay ahead. I began making two versions of this quilt. The traditional (the one shown here) and a more modern version which is still not in quilt top form. I have to admit that at one point I became a bit overwhelmed with working on two and had to re-think it. One of our group, an amazingly young 86 year old shamed all of us by making - and completing- not one but THREE versions. She is my hero and I I admire her so very much!

Me with my finished top on 6 May 2017. I struggled for a time with parts of this quilt,
but am so very happy that I got it made in time. Its next stop will be for quilting in June
I added an image of my maternal grandmother, Thea Elizabeth Kavanaugh Ellery,
in one of the blocks rather than use the intended center.
A photo of myself taken in 1957 will be in the same place on the modern version.
an original schematic.

I would love to show you some of the other quilts - they are outstandingly beautiful and, in my opinion, much nicer and more interesting than mine is....but I have not asked permission of my friends - so more photos will hopefully follow before long. I have some favorites. I know that we were all happy to have succeeded as far as we have. Some folks have already finished the quilt. Quilted, bound and DONE. Many of us, myself included, have only finished our tops, and some of have pieces and continuing towards completion.

I think that I am safe to share Anne Dawson's and Barbara Menasian's quilts though!
Anne Dawson and her exact replica version!
She is now working on a modern "sea-glass colors" versions!

Barbara Menasian's quilt. I should add that Barbara and her husband still have teens at home a
and she works a regular, full-time, job. When she began this 19-month adventure she had not made many quilts - so the fact that she finished this top on time simply astounds me!
 Amazing work! Humbling!

 We enjoyed a sumptuous dinner on Friday.
Before dinner at our Friday Celebration

We celebrated our achievements and enjoyed seeing the original maker's amazing work up close and personal!

On Saturday we had a quilt show at Woodman Hall on beautiful Lopez Island. In case you do not know the area, Lopez is a rural, agricultural island that neighbors the one I live on. It is small. Somehow we managed to attract just about 300 people to the show though which is truly an amazing number for such a small community!

This has been an amazing journey. I had never worked on a project for such a long time. It was a great project and the memories that I now have will delight me for many years to come!

For more information about the quilt - or to start making your very own. go HERE
For local photography go HERE
Have an interest in learning more about antique quilts? Go HERE


  1. Fantastic quilts! I have signed up for a BOM at my LQS despite my intention of not sewing until we get back to NC. I failed! Right not I have a Quilt-as-you-go minkee throw for the youngest daughter with foxes on it to do. So much for not bringing out my basic Singer sewing machine!


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