Enjoy quilts at the Brewster House


Bob Ellis/staff photographer
Elizabeth Brewster House resident Rose Militello poses with a quilt given to her at her retirement. The piece is one of several that will be part of a quilt show at the Main Street, Homer, facility during Saturday’s Holiday in Homer.

Living and Leisure Editor

Sharon Dorn said she was never much of a quilter. But then she found her great-grandmother’s quilt top in a cedar chest while cleaning.
“My mother made me promise that I would get it finished,” said Dorn, of Marietta, a regular volunteer at the Elizabeth Brewster House. “She was going to do it and her mother was going to do it.”
Dorn took the quilt to Brewster House resident, Ruth Evans, a seasoned quilter, who agreed to finish the piece for her. She also insisted that Dorn have it appraised. She did, and learned the 1920 era top was worth $600. “Finished, it’s double the value,” Dorn said. 
Her great-grandmother’s “Walk in the Garden” quilt, totally hand-made and complete now, with little individual pieces put together in an octagon form, will be one of around 15 quilts to be shown Saturday at a special quilt show at the Elizabeth Brewster House, 41 S. Main St., Homer, as part of the Holiday in Homer festivities going on.
The event takes place 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the activity room. The public is welcome to tour the senior residence as well.
A special tea is planned from 1 to 3 p.m. in the dining room of the house. Creamy dill cucumber toasties, chicken salad tea sandwiches, feta cheese foldovers and sweet bread tea sandwiches will be served with tea. The event is free but donations will be accepted, said Marge Tuckey, food service manager. No reservations are needed. “Last year we had 100 plus people,” she said.
The quilts, which will be for display only, are treasures of the residents, employees and families of the Elizabeth Brewster House. “We have some … that have been in their families for generations,” said Fay Ely, activities director at the Brewster House.
Resident Rose Militello, formerly of Farmington, will exhibit a tied quilt given to her by her fellow employees at the Victor Volunteer Fire Ambulance Corp, where she served 16 years as a volunteer dispatcher and supervisor. Employees signed their names in the light colored portions of the quilt, done in a traditional style of star patterns.
“One of the members made the quilt. She came in earlier that day and everyone signed it. I was very flattered because I can imagine the number of hours she put in it ... As far as I’m concerned, that’s a family heirloom, and something that’s special — signed by everyone on the ambulance corp.”
Ruth Evans will also display a quilt. The former education director at the First Methodist Church in Cortland started quilting in 1981. To date, she has made over 150, all hand sewn. “Some are patchwork. Some are appliqué,” she said. She pointed to a bird quilt she made that will appear in the display. Each square featured a different bird, shaped by her own pattern and each hand embroidered. The Lime Hollow Center for Environment and Culture commissioned a similar bird quilt for its bird room at the nature center, Evans said with pride.
“It’s fun. It keeps you busy. Keeps you off the streets.”
Always a sewer, Evans started quilting when she broke her hip. “I had to sit around and couldn’t do much else.”
She started piecing together her scraps. Today, she enjoys putting colors and shapes together. Evans has never been without an order and still has a waiting list of quilts to make. Dorn said she got a kick out of helping Evans baste her great-grandmother’s quilt. She and residents at the house worked at it as it was spread out on the table.
“It came alive,” she said. “Here were shirts … a great uncle could have worn or dresses that girls had worn. When you looked at the detail in it, too, it was amazing.”
“You get of the busy world and get into the quilting world,” said Ely, also a quilter who will display a quilt. “It gets you out of all that stuff.”