Patchwork Plus, Frontier Culture Museum and Downtown Staunton

Frontier Culture Museum

Shopping in the morning is an excellent activity to bring the circulation up to speed. Of course, we didn’t want to mess with this principle on our fifth day and so, before we started with the cultural part, we went to Patchwork Plus in Dayton.

Patchwork Plus is one of the biggest quilt shops in Virginia and offers a huge selection of fabric, books, notions, quilting stencils, and accessories for machine embroidery. Again we had convinced the owner to open the shop earlier and to supply some extra support at the cutting tables.

Patchwork Plus

Our next stop was the Frontier Culture Museum in Staunton, not very far from Patchwork Plus. This museum offers a quite extraordinary experience in comparison to other open-air museums. While most of the museums with reconstructed or rebuilt houses want to illustrate the lives of the people who lived in the area many years ago, the Frontier Culture Museum shows the lives of the people BEFORE they came to the area.

When we arrived at the front gate, we thought we wouldn’t spend that much time at the museum. Just as we got off the bus, torrential rain came down and we were really glad that we were invited to watch a short film first.

However, when we came out of the visitor centre, the sky had cleared and actually worked itself up to produce some sunshine!

West Africa

Since my last visit to the museum in 2006, there have been a few additions. The West-African village that you can see in the picture being one of them. At first, I thought I wouldn’t be overly interested in the little huts which seemed to be made from the same red mud that also covered the ground and clung to my shoes for several days. But, after looking more closely, I found a lot to admire and store both on the camera and my built-in project memory for future reference... ;-)


To make sure that you understand why I find this door immensely interesting, here a close-up:

Door Detail

The next house was an English farmhouse:

English Farmhouse

The interpreter sitting in the parlour informed us that this would have been the dwelling of rather well-off people who might not have felt the need to emigrate to America. However, there might well have been one or two younger sons who might have preferred to venture accross the Atlantic to become landowners in their own right...

The quaint house offered photo opportunities that I couldn’t resist: 



The weather having now miraculously improved, our customary museum trot became a lot more leisurely and we took the time to enjoy views like this:


I am still not sure whether I find the exaggerated idyllic a little nauseating or whether it is the reflection of the house and tree in the pond that makes my head spin... ;-)

The Irish farm was next on our route. A very nice lady explained about the hard life the Irish ancestors of many Shenandoahns led before they emigrated to America. We were a little shocked at her revelation that a bench with a box underneath actually served as bed for little children. We sincerely hope that the parents left the box open at night!

Irish Farm

Apart from people with West African, English and Irish roots, there are also quite a few people in the Shenandoah Valley with a German background. It really is amazing to travel over the Atlantic and to find an original German Fachwerkhaus from the Palatinate in an American museum...

German Farm

Luckily, the farm animals at the German farm were much more cooperative than the Irish farm animals:

Museum Cow

I don’t remember the cow’s name, but we were informed that she had pulled herself free already twice that day and that she would be banished to the stable if she did it one more time. In view of her size and her horns, I was sort of glad that the cow decided to stay put while we were on the premises. ;-)

Our visit’s highlight was certainly our polyphonic rendition of “Muss i denn zum Städtele hinaus” which we were asked to sing by one of the interpreters at the German house. I have proof on my camera that it was polyphonic: the little film of the memorable event makes very evident that I at least can’t hold a tune and therefore contributed largely to the 12-tone music approach of our performance.

Wooden Shoes

I am glad that we got off with singing. Imagine dancing a reel with these wooden clogs... ;-)

Now we really had to run to the other end of the museum premises where the administration had slyly transplanted the American houses since my last visit four years earlier.

American House

There wasn’t time for much more than a brief glance inside, but it was worth it to get a peak at the quilt frame set up here:

Quilt Frame

Since we had had a lot of airing and walking already that day, Carola and I decided that we would pass up the Blue Ridge Parkway which had been on our schedule for the afternoon. A glance towards the sky backed us up – we had used up all the sunshine available for the day.

So we extended our lunch break in the city centre of Staunton until the early afternoon. The Wharf, which is situated close to the station (there is no harbour nor any river or lake in or around Staunton), not only houses a steak restaurant but also a quilt shop...

Quilt Shop

Saturated with outdoor activities, food, and fabric, we went back to our hotel happy and satisfied... ;-)

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