The Iowa Quilt Museum is located in a historic building on the south side of the Winterset square, recognized on the National Register of Historic Places as of January, 2016 (along with the entire Winterset Courthouse District).
The building was originally a hardware store in 1886. In the early 1900s, H. N. Shaw moved his dry goods store from the west side of the square to this site.
From 1931 to 1997, the J. C. Penney department store was in business here. An advertisement that ran in the Winterset Madisonian newspaper in the 1950s touted its long-running success this way: “At Penney’s we offer no expensive frills such as charge accounts, delivery service, or fancy wrapping.”
In 1997, Adel & Winterset Appliance occupied the building, followed by Islandcarragh Rose gift shop, and then Lori Nordstrom Photography. Redeemer Church of Winterset held its church services in the building for a number of months before it was purchased for use as the Iowa Quilt Museum in 2015. The board appreciated the space for its well-preserved history, and also for the great amount of restoration and woodwork that was completed several years ago by the Islandcarragh Rose gift shop owners, XXX and Cora McQuigg. Much of the woodwork in the front area that is now the museum gift shop—including the lighted display cases—was installed during their ownership.The McQuiggs also exposed the original hardwood floors and tin ceiling.
Fundraising for the new museum began in the spring of 2015, with an eye to opening in mid 2016. Prior to opening, several important alterations were needed to make the space appropriate for quilt display. A new concrete floor was poured over the vast dirt one in the basement. Twin HVAC units that keep the humidity at 50%, perfect for textiles, were installed. Walls and ceilings were repainted, and light fixtures were replaced with museum quality, repositionable LEDs. Moveable walls that would increase our available space for display were designed and built. Lastly, the beautiful wood floors were refinished. Antique items throughout the building are native to Madison County, such as the treadle sewing machines on loan from Tony Jacobson and the Madison County Historical Museum, display cases from historic local merchants, and a four-poster bed from the Madison County Historical Society, currently in use for a “bed-turning” display of additional quilts.
The IQM Board is proud to be writing the next chapter in our historic building’s history, one that we hope will leave a lasting legacy in Winterset. The Iowa Quilt Museum gives visitors to Madison County yet one more reason to spend time in a classic, rural town center.