Not that a raging inferno is ever something you expect to happen . . .
But sadly, it sometimes does.
One of the guilds I belong to, the Hands of Friendship Quilt Guild in Kirksville, Missouri, was recently asked to put together an exhibit of quilts for the Kirksville Arts Center — quilts with a sort of Christmas theme, to hang in the gallery for the month of December. We did this last year, and it was a gorgeous display.
So some of our members rallied and offered up quilts for this year’s display as well. For the simple reason that I didn’t think I’d have the time, and because I only own one Christmas quilt, and I showed it last year, I declined to enter anything this year. Who knew that would turn out to be a good decision?
Last Friday, the quilts were hung, beautifully displayed in the gallery.
Friday night, the building burned to the ground, quilts and all.
The historic three-story building just off the town square somehow caught fire on the second floor, and was out of control in just minutes. Thankfully, no one was hurt in the fire or from fighting the fire, but the building is a total loss, leaving the Kirksville Arts Center homeless and trying to regroup and move forward to find a new home and continue to offer their services to the community.
Out of the approximately two dozen quilts on display, only one was saved, and it is damaged, possibly beyond repair. Rose Marie says the binding of the quilt is singed, and the entire quilt is stained and dirty, with smoke and water damage, but she is going to try to salvage what she can of it. She said, “It will never be the same.”
I’ve always maintained that when a person dies, so much history dies with them: stories they told that no one remembers, stories they never told, things only they knew about, so much history just gone when they pass on.
It’s the same with our quilts — they have stories, they have history, they mean something to us, they hold dear memories, and we put so much work and love into each and every one of them. To lose them like this is so sad and tragic.
Andrea’s quilt, shown here, made from the last bits of her grandmother’s scraps, and her grandmother even cut some of the pieces:
After the fire, it’s not salvageable:
Michele creates most of her quilts by hand, with exquisite handwork in the appliqué and the quilting. She lost this one:
Marilyn’s Kansas City Star Block of the Month (from 2014), “Rubies, Diamonds, and Garnets” — damaged beyond any hope of repair:
Alice and Kay and Krista each lost three quilts.
Jo had recently finished her “French Sampler”, made from my BOM pattern, and now it’s gone:
Lots of my friends lost quilts, some of them more than one quilt each. My heart goes out to them.
But, as quilters do, they will all make more quilts. While some of the lost quilts are irreplaceable, and can’t even be recreated, both Andrea and Jo have plans to recreate the quilts they lost.
And when Diane found out that Kay had lost her Hometown Christmas Block-of-the-Month quilt in the fire, she gifted Kay the quilt she had made that was exactly like it, since they had made them as a group project among friends. That’s a true friend!
Life and quilting goes on, even when the unexpected happens, and I will say once again how thankful I am (and we all are) that no one was injured in the fire. And I’m sure all of my friends will continue to make quilts that have stories, history, and lots of love pieced into them.
If you visit the Kirksville Art Center’s web page, you can see pictures of the quilt display from the afternoon before the fire.