Previous Site of the Month: August 2011
Freedom Trail Quilts
Museum of Connecticut History, Connecticut State Library, 231 Capitol Avenue, Hartford, CT 06106
In April 1998, a Connecticut Freedom Trail (CFT) Planning Committee member suggested that a quilt be made of blocks representing each site on the trail. The idea was accepted by the committee and work began. The major event for Connecticut Freedom Trail Month (September )1998 would be a bicycle tour of the sites and a culminating giant quilting bee in Hartford. Each site was contacted and a quilt coordinator was hired. The coordinator's role was to select colors and a basic design for the quilt. She, along with three regional coordinators, worked with the site representatives, quilting clubs and senior centers to produce the quilt blocks. The Committee member who suggested the quilt was a member of the Connecticut Bicycle Coalition(CBC). With the CBC, he enlisted couriers to transport the blocks from the sites to Hartford where a six day quilting bee was planned to assemble the blocks into one large quilt.
As quilting of the blocks progressed and the list of volunteer couriers lengthened, the planning committee secured a location for the quilting bee and sought a place to display the quilt once completed. Wall space for a quilt of the anticipated size could not be found. Therefore, the decision was made to divide the blocks into regions of the state in which the sites were situated, resulting in four separate quilts.
On Saturday, September 12th, couriers from the Connecticut Bicycle Coalition began their ride from the farthest points (north, west, south and east) of the state. On Sunday, September 13th, they concluded their journeys by delivering to the State Capitol quilt blocks representing the 78 sites then on the Freedom Trail. The blocks were spread on the floor of the Capitol Rotunda as they arrived and viewed by those in attendance.
On Monday, September 14th, the quilting bee began at Faith Congregational Church in Hartford. For five days individuals came to the church to work on the quilts. On Saturday, September 19th, the four quilts were taken to the Hartford Civic Center where the finishing touches were applied. On Sunday, September 20th, the finished quilts were unveiled by the quilters during ceremonies held at the Legislative Office Building, adjacent to the State Capitol. Framing for the quilts was done by Pratt & Whitney in East Hartford. Pratt & Whitney donated all of the materials and labor. On February 5, 1999, the grand opening of the permanent exhibit of the Connecticut Freedom Trail Quilts was held at the Museum of Connecticut History.
Over 100 quilters from around the state made the quilts, and over 50 couriers participated in the bicycle tour. Hundreds of Connecticut citizens supported the efforts of the quilters and the couriers, thus ensuring the success of the project.