Vermont Quiltsearch indicated fifteen to twenty quilts in the President Calvin Coolidge State Historic Site collection. Imagine my delight that one was a basket quilt – but dated circa 1910! The Site Administrator described the quilt as pink and green baskets on a white background with stuffed handles. Examination with a certified appraiser confirmed my suspicion that given the fabric, pattern, and construction technique, this quilt was crafted earlier.
The quilt was conveyed to the State of Vermont as part of the furnishings of the Homestead, Calvin’s boyhood home. It was in the sitting room of the Homestead, by the light of a kerosene lamp, that Coolidge was sworn into office as the 30th President of the United States. No record exists as to which bedroom the quilt was used in, or which family member was the maker. Maternal Grandmother Abigail Franklin Moor (1811-1892), Paternal Grandmother Sarah Almeda Brewer (1823-1906), and Step-Grandmother Marcella Lydia Moore (1831-1899) are possibilities.
The Vermont Historical Society houses the Coolidge Papers. It was a tease to find: “My eyes have been so sore that I could not read or write or I should have written before . . . I have just finished my bed quilt that I had about when you were home (Sarah Almeda Brewer to her son, September 20th, 1864). The identity of the maker is still unknown.
The Grandmother’s Basket pattern inspired me to focus on the simplicity of the design elements in a cradle quilt format. A grandchild is always hoped for! It was a deceptively complex pattern to piece, requiring absolute precision –not my strong suit! I opted to machine piece to best represent the skill of the maker. The hand quilting is modified due to scale.
I loved imagining the life and times of this rural hill town in nineteenth-century Vermont.