A 360º shot of our latest exhibit: Beautiful Simplicity

The story of 68 E Court Ave on the south side of the Winterset town square began in 1856 with the construction of the Vawter Stone Store. Forty years later, after an unfortunate collapse, the building was rebuilt and became a dry goods store which operated until 1930 when it was sold to the J.C. Penney company. The J.C. Penney store operated for 66 years, seeing the ‘new’ building to its centennial anniversary. (Learn more about the history of building here!) In January, 2016, the building was recognized on the National Register of Historic Places along with the entire Winterset Courthouse District.

In 2015, the Iowa Quilt Museum purchased the now 120 year old building and began the renovations necessary to open a museum dedicated to celebrating the American Quilt. That renovation included an entire overhaul of the first story climate control system, new lighting for the display gallery, extensive work in the basement to mitigate moisture, and the installation of a top-notch hanging system giving us the flexibility to display quilts in a myriad of ways. What the renovation didn’t include was necessary improvements to make the second story a usable space. 

In addition to having a large amount of highly under-utilized space, we’re now facing a situation where, without serious intervention, the second story of our historic building is in danger of severe deterioration. Because we have had minimal temperature and moisture control in the second story for the last several years, parts of the upstairs of our grand, historic building are deteriorating. Our first priority as stewards of this building is to preserve and maintain the structure. In doing so we can also create a space that is more usable by museum staff for exhibit preparation, storage, and workspace. Additionally, we can expand our in-house programming, allowing us to broaden our mission to promote appreciation of the American quilt.

You can see from these photos, that the need is real, and if we don’t take action now, the integrity of our building could be in serious peril.

We need $40,000 in order to make the necessary investment in our building’s well-being by installing a climate control system on the second floor and making repairs to walls, floor and ceiling. 

Thanks to the generosity of supporters from across the country, we’ve already raised $26,000—well over half of our goal! Work will begin soon while we finish raising the remaining funds.

We’re so grateful for the history of this beautiful old building and we’re privileged to be writing the next chapter in its story. We want to both preserve the history of this stunning building and improve the Iowa Quilt Museum so we can expand our offerings. We need your help to make sure that we can move the Iowa Quilt Museum into the future and continue as faithful stewards of this amazing facility.

South side of the Winterset Square, late 1940s

In just four years, the IQM has mounted seventeen top-quality exhibits featuring hundreds of quilts from historic to contemporary, traditional to modern, and everything in between. We have exhibited quilts by some of the best known quilters in the industry like Victoria Findlay Wolfe and Ricky Tims and collaborated with highly regarded collectors and institutions like Gerald RoyJulie SilberRoderick Kiracofe, the Wisconsin Museum of Quilts and Fiber Arts and the International Quilt Museum

A Fons & Porter Homecoming, 2019

The Iowa Quilt Museum welcomes nearly 8,000 visitors each year to our exhibits and many more to our gift shop and online programming. In just four years, the museum has become an integral part of the life, and economy, of downtown Winterset.

We now have the opportunity to give the second story of our illustrious building a chance at a fresh start and to preserve this building, ensuring a lasting legacy! By doing so, we can open the door to a host of possible ways to use the space to further our mission of promoting the American quilt and the art of quiltmaking.

Can we count on your help to make this happen? Your donation can help carry this 120-year-old building into the next chapter and ensure that the building remains structurally sound as well as helping to create a space that is usable for exhibit preparation, workspace and programming. 

Making a donation is easy and secure. Just click on the button below to make a one-time donation or set up a recurring gift to help sustain the IQM and our mission. Every gift counts, no matter the size. Just like a quilt, when the pieces all some together it creates something pretty spectacular.

Join Curator, Millie Kerhli, this September 19th at 3 PM and learn more about Mary’s journey into the quilting world, her extensive research, and hear about the quilts in our exhibit.

Tickets to the gallery walk are $10 each followed by a reception at 5 PM.