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Quilt Trail Takes Norwalk Into Its Past

When Lesley Korennik's husband died, her mother came up with an idea for a touching memorial: a quilt made from all the shirts he had worn. "People still remember him wearing these shirts," Korennik said of the quilt, a gift for her son 10 years ago.

You might say that quilt is now one of the first stops on the Norwalk Quilt Trail, a collaboration among cultural organizations to show quilts at six museums and other public sites. It is exhibited just inside the door at the Rowayton Historical Society. The society’s contribution to the Quilt Trail , "A Common Thread: Family History Told Through Quilting," opened Saturday. An exhibit titled “The Craze of Crazy Quilts” also opened Saturday at the Lockwood-Mathews Mansion Museum.

Other quilts displayed at the Rowayton Historical Society are one made of ribbons manufactured in Norwalk factories, Norwalk's first multi-cultural quilt – a Hawaiian quilt representing a fusion of Polynesian design and American culture – and a modern quilt made by Rowayton's Goodwives Club.

"They all have stories," said Korennik, curator of the exhibit. That includes a quilt made in the 1880s in Minnesota by a man from Scandinavia and passed down through a Rowayton family. When he died, his wife–the great-great-great grandmother of a local resident–remarried and had five more children. She kept the quilt in memory of her first husband.

"Quilts are made for many different reasons," Korennik said, "birth, marriage, departing people from a community, death--memorial quilts."

The Rowayton display also includes signature quilt, made for a departing pastor and signed by everyone in the community.

A signature quilt also goes on display Sunday at the Norwalk Historical Society. It was made in 1847 when the Rev. William C. Hoyt was leaving the South Norwalk Methodist Church.

Many of the quilts to be displayed by the Norwalk Historical Society came in response to a call made to the public, said curator Laura Macaluso. "We all like this one very much," she said of a Pied Piper quilt. "We put up this sign in the Norwalk Senior Center, and this wonderful gal, June King, came in. She said, 'I didn't know people were interested in this stuff.' She was really grateful, and it turned out to be one of the best ones."

Sue Reich, a quilt historian, curator and lecturer, will give a lecture at Norwalk Historical Society Sunday at 3 p.m. Admission is $5. At 5 p.m. there is a free opening reception for the exhibit. Both are at the Mill Hill Historic Park-Town House, located at 2 E. Wall St.

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