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Cool Things - Potwin Place Quilt

Potwin Place quilt

Community centennials are about a sense of place. This centennial quilt for the Potwin Place neighborhood reinforces a sense of place through its very design.

In 1988, Potwin Place (a historic district in Topeka known for its wide boulevards and spacious Victorian homes) celebrated the 100th anniversary of its chartering as a third-class city. Charles Potwin had purchased 70 acres of farmland in 1869 from a half-blood Shawnee in present-day Potwin. Ten years later the land was subdivided and individual lots sold. In 1899, the city of Potwin, like other local neighborhoods, was incorporated into the city of Topeka. Lack of services--such as a fire station--was one of the reasons for incorporation.

Jeanne Hirschberg headed up the Potwin Place Centennial Quilt project with the assistance of Muriel Segerson, O'Thene Leonard, Marilyn Waugh, Lee Martell, Barbara Laird, Sally Dinkel, Sally Dyke, and Naomi Spratt in 1987. Organizers surveyed the neighborhood to determine the fabric colors and then delivered quilting kits to each resident. Residents created a block with their property on it. Neighbors scheduled "stitch-ins" and rediscovered the social aspects of quilting enjoyed by their mothers and grandmothers. The project brought together quilters and non-quilters who helped each other as needed. Participants pieced together the quilt blocks and then quilted the various layers together.

The Potwin banner quilt is 14-1/2 feet wide and 8-1/2 feet in length and features applique, quilting, and embroidery. The quilt includes 183 properties made to scale, depicting present-day Potwin within the original town site. Brick streets and roundabouts are defining features. Homeowners brought their own creativity to the project. Marge Petty included some of her great-grandmother's handmade lace on her home. Peggy Gatewood's block features a detailed garden, including rabbits. The old Jane C. Stormont Hospital and the original Potwin Grade School also are depicted on the quilt. A stitchers' panel lists the names of those who worked on the project.

The Potwin Place Centennial Quilt was offered to the Kansas Museum of History in 1988 at a celebration held at Ward-Meade Park.

Here are close-up images of city blocks depicted on the Potwin Place Centennial Quilt, identified by their bordering streets:

Block 1: bordered by Woodlawn, Third, Elmwood & Willow
Block 2: bordered by Woodlawn, Second, Elmwood & Third
Block 3: bordered by Woodlawn, First, Elmwood & Second
Block 4: bordered by Woodlawn, Grove, Elmwood & First
Block 5: bordered by Greenwood, Third, Woodlawn, & Willow
Block 6: bordered by Greenwood, Second, Woodlawn, & Third
Block 7: bordered by Greenwood, First, Woodlawn, & Second
Block 8: bordered by Greenwood, Grove, Woodlawn, & First
Block 9: bordered by Grove, Elmwood, & Woodlawn
Block 10: bordered by Grove, Woodlawn, & Broadmoor
Block 11: bordered by alley, Willow, Greenwood, & Third
Block 12: bordered by alley, Third, Greenwood, & Second
Block 13: bordered by alley, Second, Greenwood, & First
Block 14: bordered by alley, First, Greenwood, & Grove

Entry: Cool Things - Potwin Place Quilt

Author: Kansas Historical Society

Author information: The Kansas Historical Society is a state agency charged with actively safeguarding and sharing the state's history.

Date Created: October 2003

Date Modified: July 2014

The author of this article is solely responsible for its content.