Back to the block project............with those drapes finished, I was free to play with the Cloud 9 fabric collection designed by JuliaRothman. All of the blocks that are designed will go into a charity quilt for BumbleBeans and so this had to be a special block. When I first saw the fabrics, I thought of making a pieced block but then something "clicked" and I got this idea for "Row Houses". I had watched a recent episode of "House Hunters" (I am addicted to this show and the International version) and a couple was looking for a Row House. Something about these fabrics just said.......make us into Row Houses!! So, I laid out the pieces that said they wanted to be houses.............
and then I started stitching. I pricked my fingers constantly because I had so many little pieces pinned here and there. My husband asked me "why don't you just tape it together?" and I gave him one of those....."you just do not get it" looks, and I continued stitching. I could see the idea in my head but I wasn't sure it was working but I kept sewing. I cut bits of fabric from every piece that was in the packet of fabric and here is the final block...........
I am sure these houses sit on some old street, I think it is Columbia Street, in New York City in a neighborhood that first saw construction about 1840. The house in the center was built by a Dutch family and was their home for many years. Their last name was VanOort and records show that Jeremiah VanOort built the home for his wife, Catherine and their three children.
The houses on the left and right were built by brothers. Alphonsus E. Gales who constructed his house in 1852. Two years later, his brother, Rutherford B. Gales began construction of his house. Alphonsus' wife, Elizabeth, planted a patch of wildflowers outside the front door and they still grow in abundance to this day. She shared seeds from her garden with her new sister-in-law, Phoebe, when Rutherford married in 1855 and brought his new bride to the little house on Columbia Street. The families enjoyed life on Columbia Street but then in 1901, the VanOort house was sold to someone who had made it big in Vaudeville. That gentleman knew that "talking pictures" were the up and coming thing so he renovated the house and it became "Whitt's House of Talking Pictures". The wives of Alphonsus and Rutherford were thankful that their husbands had passed to their heavenly reward before seeing the theatre that came between their houses. Oh, yes, what a scandal that was!
Life went on for the familes for each had a child that continued to live in the Row Houses. Alphonsus and Elizabeth had a son named Harry, and Rutherford and Phoebe had a daughter named Abigail. Each married and their families grew. They cared for their aging mothers, and children grew and married and babies were born. Yes, life was good, even with that "talking pictures" house in between their humble homes. Many years passed and then in the late 1950's, the theatre became an apartment building, and then a clothing store, and even a funeral parlor for a very short time. But the little houses that Alphonsus and Rutherford built continued to remain in their families. Today, you'll find Phoebe, the great, great granddaughter of Abigail and named for her great great great grandmother, living in the little house now called Fishbone Cottage. That's the name she gave it when she opened her fish and chips shop more than 20 years ago. She needed money to maintain her little home, so she created an apartment on the second floor and opened her little cafe on the first floor. Her cousin, David, and his wife,Cindy, had similar needs to keep their little house in good repair so they followed Phoebe's plan and made an apartment on the second floor and opened "Miscellany Book Store" on the first floor. If there is a vintage book you are looking for, you will surely find it in their shop.
Time was not so kind to the old theatre building. It sat vacant for almost ten years before it became the studio for Cloud 9 Fabrics and the designs of Julia Rothman. It took on new life, color, excitement when they renovated the building. It made Phoebe realize that she needed to add a new roof, so David added a new roof, too. Then Phoebe added paint here and there and new windows........and yes, so did David and Cindy. Ah, the Row Houses on Columbia Street are looking mighty fine. I think Alphonsus and Rutherford would be happy to know the little houses built so long ago have stood the "test of time". And don't you just wish you could really visit these little houses on Columbia Street?!!
So that's my story and there's just a little more to it............I really did know a woman named Elizabeth Gales. She befriended me, a young mother with a 2 year old, when we first moved to New Jersey and we lived on Columbia Street! I remember her kindess to this day and think of her often. It was thoughts of her that got this story started. I also thought of two good friends, Cindy, who I met in the late 1990's when she moved here from New Jersey. She always encouraged my creative endeavors and she would have loved this block and it's story. Sadly, Cindy passed away of cancer two years ago. I can hear her laugh, though! And then there was David. He was my grade school sweetheart and a really dear friend who I had known from the time I was in kindergarten. He passed away too young of a heart attack and I miss both of them. There is also a Catherine VanOort that is my friend in real life. Yep, she's my neighbor across the street and I know she loves a good book, so I hope she has enjoyed my story. And hopefully, you all have, too! Thanks much to Victoria and Julia for the chance to work with the Cloud 9 fabrics. I can't wait to see the rest of the blocks and then the whole quilt!!!
It's Friday and isn't that great?!! Have a good weekend everyone!