We got our stitches in a bunch over Greeneville’s love for quilts.
Just finishing up is the Nathanael Greene Museum Quilt Show (W. McKee St. downtown Greeneville). Every door, banister, table, crib, chair, and wall has been covered in historic quilts, each one with a story. And Executive Director, Earl Fletcher, knows them all. There’s the quilt backed with a confederate blanket following the end of the Civil War; the quilt sewn by a man (an unusual story) for a friend who was sick with terminal illness; the quilt pieced from Burley cloth tobacco pouches. Earl and Betty Fletcher, as founders and operators of the museum, have come to be the trusted regional depository for quilted family heirlooms. Normally the museum has a fair share of quilts on display, but once a year they bring out more of their impressive collection that has been assembled over the years.
The first room in the museum is a permanent exhibit on the “History Of Greene County Quilts: A Stop On The Appalachian Quilt Trail.” Once you finish exploring the museum, if you want to continue to Follow the Quilt Trail in Greene County and beyond, the museum has maps and tours to guide you. They sell Quilt Trail inspired jewelry, posters, and notecards. For this they called themselves the “Gateway to the Quilt Trail” and we thank them for all they do to promote getting people out on the Quilt Trail.
In turn we must promote this regional gem! The NG Museum has been called “the best kept secret in Greene County” — but it shouldn’t be a secret. Right in our backyard is a 3-story museum with exhibits on important African-Americans in Greene County, a gallery on when Civil War came to East TN, an interactive children’s room on Davy Crockett (complete with bear cave), a whole wing dedicated to whats stores on “Main Street” Greeneville used to be like, furniture that belonged to Andrew Johnson…and of course Quilts!! It’s incredible that the museum operates with just 3 staff. Thank you to the many donors and volunteers who support it.
Greeneville was the first urban site on the Follow the Quilt Trail, the first time we deviated from placing quilts on farms and farm buildings. Their connection with regional history, their excitement, and their community-oriented approach, made the NG Museum and James-Ben Gallery a natural match for the Trail. In winter of 2008, Nathaneal Green Museum‘s “School House” quilt square was hung in winter of 2008, inspired by the history of the museum building being a former school. James-Ben Gallery‘s (129 N. Main St.) “Andrew Johnson Star” quilt square was patterned after a patriotic 1865 quilt from the Andrew Johnson National Historic Site. Gallery Director James-Ben Stockton supports quilt-inspired artists (at the gallery you’ll find mini-quilts, wall hangings, and quilt watercolors, just to name a few of the arts delights) and distributes Quilt Trail maps and guides.
We want to grow the Greeneville Quilt Trail. With so much history, the presence of the National Park, colorful architecture, unique genealogy and library resources, and local businesses, there is lots of opportunity to establish a downtown Greeneville Quilt Walking Tour. After meeting with a few partners who care about downtown Greeneville and the arts, the message is “more quilts! more quilts!”.