Marie Webster, sitting, with fur stole and holding fur muff ca. 1910.
Marie Daugherty Webster, a woman of the early 1900’s who was born in Wabash, Indiana, was a nationally known leader of the quilt revival. Marie Webster brought quilting into the culture of America. She and her husband, George, moved into her home in 1902, which is located at 926 South Washington Street in Marion, Indiana. She resided there for fourty years, from 1902 to 1942. She became famous for her quilting when four of her quilts were shown in The Ladies Home Journal magazine in January 1911. Following in time, the magazine continued to feature more of her personalized quilts. Marie Webster also wrote a book, which was the first publication that really defined quilts. The book was titled Quilts: Their Story and How to Make Them. This being her first book was published in 1915. Marie was known worldwide for her creative new ideas and her appliqué designing of quilts. Webster later decided to start her own company in 1911, which she named the Practical Patchwork Company. This company not only offered patterns for quilts and quilt kits, but also finished quilts. After carrying out her nationally popular quilting for many years, Marie passed away in 1956 (Losure).
New plans for the Marie Webster House
The Webster House, ca. 1900
Rosalind Webster Perry, the favored granddaughter of Marie Daugherty Webster, first returned to the home of her grandmother in 1988. She had been doing some research, which had brought her to Marion, Indiana. She was familiar with the area because she had spent some of her early childhood years growing up in Marion. She walked up to the Marie Webster house and rang the doorbell only to discover an empty and abandoned house. After peeking into one of the windows, a floorboard on the porch gave out and her foot fell right through. “The wood had rotted so badly. It kind of upset me that the house was in that condition. I was very depressed,” said Rosalind Perry to the Marion Chronicle-Tribune. Perry decided to purchase the house in 1991. During Perry’s research she started to truly appreciate the great influence her grandmother had on the culture of America. In 1991 Marie Webster was inducted into the Quilters Hall of Fame. One year later, in 1992, Rosalind chose to donate the home of her grandmother to the Quilters Hall of Fame. The Quilters Hall of Fame is a non-profit organization, which was founded in Vienna, Virginia during the year 1979. It honors the history of quilting and modern day quilters. The Quilters Hall of Fame helped raise funds for the much needed renovation of the Marie Webster home. The plan was then to turn it into a museum and research center (McKibben).
Renovation of the home
After over ten years of renovation, the Marie Webster House is now open to the public. According to Madonna Fowler, the site manager of the home, the renovations cost an estimated $600,000. The house was renovated to look very similar to the way it looked when Marie Webster lived in it. Some wood, flooring, and fireplaces have been recycled from the York Inn, which used to be located at Buffalo Avenue and 9th Street until it was torn down. One of the bathrooms on the second floor contains a marble counter surrounding a sink taken from the home in Wabash that Marie Webster grew up in. A few of the doors in the home have transoms, simply known as small windows. Some modern things have been added, such as exit signs, an intercom, lighting, and a sprinkler system. Modern windows were installed that protect the exhibits from ultraviolet rays. New concrete stairs were built onto the porches and a handicap accessible ramp was built in. There is now a parking lot behind the home on Boots Street. The Grant County Evening Garden Club volunteered to do the yard work and memorial bricks make up the back patio (McKibben).
Home receives national status
The Webster House as it was being dedicated as the Quilters' Hall of Fame, July 15, 1994
This home was nominated by Doctor Page Putnam Miller, Director of the National Coordinating Committee for the Promotion of History, to help increase the appreciation of the history of women and their experiences, hard times, and achievements. The significance of this colonial revival home is so great that it was stitched in stone during November of 1993. It was named a National Historic Landmark by Bruce Babbitt, the U.S. Secretary of the Interior. A historic preservation consultant, Craig Leonard, said luck was involved in the Marie Webster home receiving such a high landmark status. Nevertheless, Rosalind Perry felt honored and privilege to have her grandmother’s home added onto a list of about two thousand landmarks spanning the entire country. The designation of the Marie Webster home as a National Historic Landmark means that the property has been recognized, by the government, as significant to the nation due to its broad theme and historical movements in America (Losure & Ross).
This National Historic Landmark is the first to honor a leading figure that specialized in the art of quilting and to highlight the significance of quilting in the cultural history of America. Marie Webster is one of the very few women who have been honored by the National Historic Landmarks Program. According to the press release from the National Coordinating Committee for the Promotion of History; less than five percent of the 2,000 landmarks in America are focused on a woman. Rosalind Perry claimed that it is quite an exclusive club to be a part of. Perry believed that the given landmark status of the Marie Webster home was a wonderful thing for Marion and also for the Quilters Hall of Fame (Losure).
The grand opening of the completely renovated Marie Webster home was held July 15-18, 2004. It had been twelve years since the home had been open. The planning and preparation for this grand opening took a year and a half. Everyone who was involved in the preparation began in March of 2003. Those who planned the opening expected about 3,000 visitors. The celebration and opening of the Marie Webster home began with the inauguration of the Quilters Hall of Fame Honorees Book. The ribbon-cutting ceremony was held at 9 o’clock a.m. on July 16, 2004. 200 quilters and quilting fans crowded on the lawn of the Marie Webster home Friday morning of the opening weekend. Most of the gathered fans were older women (Harty & Ross).
The Celebration 2004
The Quilters' Hall of Fame on December 30, 2006
Thousands of quilting fans visited Marion for what was titled the “Celebration 2004.” The Marie Webster House was open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and 1 to 4 p.m. on Sunday. The home was closed on Monday. The cost of admission was four dollars. Elderly, students, and groups of ten or more people only had to pay three dollars. Tours of the home were free during the Celebration 2004. The first floor of the new Quilters Hall of Fame has the museum store and welcome area for visitors. The second floor contains The Quilters Hall of Fame exhibits, information on Marie Webster’s history, and the inductees of the Quilters Hall of Fame. This grand opening of the Marie Webster House was one of the biggest highlights of the Quilters Hall of Fame. President of the Grant County Convention Recreation & Visitors Commission, Randy Ballinger, said the reestablishment of the Quilters Hall of Fame into the Marie Webster home is sure to be a boost for tourism in Marion, Indiana (Harty).
A boost for Marion
The new home of the Quilters Hall of Fame, also known as the Marie Webster House, gives our community an international draw. Visiting the Quilters Hall of Fame is said to be a marvelous cultural experience. Madonna Fowler said that the new Quilters Hall of Fame could potentially bring 5,000 visitors each year. The hall also gives Marion another opportunity for volunteer work. This new location of the Quilters Hall of Fame has given Marion quite a boost of tourism. Having the Marie Webster House donated as the home of the Quilters Hall of Fame has been an honor for the community of Marion, Indiana (McKibben).
Front view of the home of Marie Webster, horse & carriage standing in front of house. ca. 1900
Exterior view of the Quilter's Hall of Fame house, the former home of Marie Webster. July 15, 1994
Submitted on May 15, 2008 by Jazzmin Cibel for Mr. Munn's ACP US History Class.
- Harty, Kristin. “Quilters Hall of Fame celebrates its new home.” Marion Chronicle-Tribune 16 July 2004.
- Harty, Kristin. “Quilters Hall of Fame.” Marion Chronicle-Tribune 17 July 2004.
- Losure, Cindy. “Webster House given landmark status.” Marion Chronicle-Tribune 5 November 1993.
- McKibben, Paul. “The Marie Webster House.” Marion Chronicle-Tribune 11 July 2004.
- McKibben, Paul. “Marie Webster House expected to draw thousands each year.” Marion Chronicle-Tribune 11 July 2004.
- Ross, Whitney. “Historic house to reopen.” Marion Chronicle-Tribune 30 May 2004.
- Ross, Whitney. “Weekend worth of quilting-related events kicks off today.” Marion Chronicle-Tribune 15 July 2004.