In 1864, a group of Belfast ladies made a bed quilt and sent it to the Armory Square Hospital, a Union Army hospital in Washington, D.C. The purpose was to recognize and honor those who had fought to preserve the Union. We know this from a 1917 account written by Augusta Quimby Frederick who, as a much younger woman, had worked on the quilt. The names of the women who stitched the quilt are inscribed on it, along with patriotic messages, poetry, the names of battles, and more.
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On Friday, March 11, 2011, almost 150 years since it was made, the quilt returned to Belfast. The month before, the Museum received a telephone call from a woman in Montana. She related how, more than 30 years earlier, the quilt had been saved from a burn barrel and kept safely stored. She offered to send it to the Museum, and, of course, we gratefully accepted.
Professional conservation of the Belfast Civil War Flag Quilt is complete. All conservation work was performed by Deborah Bede of Stillwater Textile Conservation Studio in Bradford, New Hampshire.
Upon inspection we were fully satisfied, indeed delighted, by the appearance of the quilt and the high quality work done by Ms. Bede.
The quilt was prominently displayed as the centerpiece of the Museum’s 2013 summer exhibit that commemorated the sesquicentennial of the Civil War. The Belfast Museum was part of the “Maine Civil War Trail,” and many visitors followed the trail to see our exhibit.
Pictured above, detail of restorated quilt.