Quilts depict local history sewn in time

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 22, 2003

The third collector's edition quilt is for sale.

The quilt depicts eight popular historical attractions in Mower County.

So popular is the quilt, that the previous two have been sell-outs.

Email newsletter signup

The third quilt has only 75 opportunities for collectors to literally purchase history in this form.

Shirley DeYoung, director for the Mower County Historical Society, is taking orders at the historical center on the fairgrounds in Austin.

"The first one we had made in 1999 was an instant sell-out," DeYoung said. "We had buildings like the Mower County Courthouse, Fox Hotel, Austin High School, St. Augustine Catholic Church and others and everybody liked it and bought every quilt we had made."

When the second quilt was made in 2001, it depicted such historical buildings as the Paramount Theatre, St. Olaf Hospital, the Woolworth store building and the Tender Maid restaurant.

It was snatched up by a public hungry for history. The same response is expected for the third edition.

The quilts or afghans are 42-by-60 inches and sell for $45 each. They come in colors, including cranberry red, hunter green, Navy blue and black.

Proceeds from the sale of the limited edition quilts go to the Historical Society and DeYoung said, the organization needs help in preserving Mower County history.

"The Mower County Historical Society is very concerned the historical center will be affected by budget cuts," she said. "It's always a struggle to do the things we have to do to preserve history and it will only get worse with the pending budget cuts because of the state budget deficit."

The Mower County Board of Commissioners set aside funding from its reserves to have a new agricultural display building constructed on the fairgrounds.

The building will, in part, relieve the strain of not having proper exhibit space for the many historical items being turned over to the historical society for preservation.

The building is under construction by Wagner Construction Company, Inc. of Austin and slated for completion in time for the 2003 Mower County Fair in August.

Sometime in May, the historical society will holds its annual open house to welcome visitors back tot he multi-faceted historical center on the fairgrounds.

Throughout the year, the historical society's administration center, where DeYoung and assistant Joan Smerud maintain regular office hours, is a mecca for families and individuals researching history. It's also the repository of the largest collection of data for genealogical research projects.

The historical society has constantly been challenged to help itself through fund-raisers. Thus, the third historical quilt project.

"Actually, we had some of our 'regulars' or those people who have purchased other quilts and who support the historical society suggest the buildings they would like to see on the new quilt," DeYoung said. "We took all of the suggestions to the historical society's board and they approved the choices."

The new quilt is a treasure of woven history. The Shaw Gym is there. The historic Opera House along North Main Street, where The Bootery is now located, is another historical building.

First National Bank is reincarnated in thread. Today, it is the Curves For Women fitness center.

The Mower County Courthouse, circa 1884, is depicted in all its original majesty in downtown Austin.

The Fox Hotel, another downtown landmark located where the Wells Fargo Bank of Austin now stands, beckons guests with its distinctive front porch.

Also depicted are the original Austin High School and the Alex Hirsh Clothiers, now preserved by Jack Keenan.

Finally, there is St. Olaf Lutheran Church.

Also being sold to help defray expenses of the Historical Society is the Mower County pictorial history book "Images of America" for $19.99 plus tax.

For information about the historic quilt, pictorial book or to join the Historical Society, call DeYoung at 437-6082.

The Mower County Historical Center is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. Admission is $5 per person. Children 12 and younger are admitted free of charge when accompanied by an adult. Group tours may also be arranged.

Lee Bonorden can be contacted at 434-2232 or by e-mail at