Thursday, July 28, 2016

Old Governor’s Mansion, Helena!

After my last workshop day with the Helena Quilt Guild, we had some free time and when it was suggested that Bobi give us a private behind the scenes tour of the old Governor’s mansion (because she works there!) I jumped at the chance!

Touring old homes and buildings is a favorite thing to do when traveling. 

We had passed the mansion while riding the tour train the night before and I couldn’t wait to see what was waiting for us inside!

The Queen Anne home was built in 1888 by Helena entrepreneur William Chessman as a symbol of his wealth and influence throughout the Helena community. The next two owners, the Larsons and the Conrads, continued the pattern of affluent living. In 1913 the State of Montana acquired this handsome brick mansion as the first official governor's residence for nearly half a century.

Between 1913 and 1959, it was home to nine Montana governors and their families.


Check out that brick detail!


Peeking into the parlour!

I can imagine the activities that went on in here during the time that this was used as the Governor’s mansion.  And I would MUCH rather live HERE than in the “new” Governor’s mansion that became the residence in 1959.  My history loving heart was all a-flutter being given a private after hours tour!

Because it WAS after hours, all the binds were drawn and it did feel like we were sneakily skulking around where we shouldn’t be!

Bobi was so knowledgeable about everything and showed us many things that normal visitors don’t get to see.


The dining room is set for guests!


Check out this napkin ring!

I was fascinated with the napkin rings – they are ALL different.  We were also told that folks were careful with their linen napkins.  in some cases, this would be your napkin for the entirety of the week as laundry wouldn’t be done every day.  No disposable paper napkins here!  Same with the knife rests.  They kept the knife off of the tablecloth to keep it clean for as long as possible as well.


Up the staircase!


And yes, there is taxidermy!

This is MONTANA!

I am still giggling over what was told us on the train.  There was a huge battle over which city would become the state capitol, and it seemed that Helena had won by a landslide.  In fact, when a hidden wall was found in one of the mansions, and ballots were found and counted from behind that wall, Helena DID win by more votes than were possible by the number of registered voters on the record.  Ballot boxes were stuffed, and Helena won by cheating.  TOO funny.  Or maybe not so funny.  I don’t think politics have changed much, do you?

While most of the rooms were too dark to take great photos of everything, There was one room where we spent a LOT of time:


The nursery!

I am pulling from my memory, but if it serves me right, the last governor to live in this house had 3 daughters and they used to play here.


Dolly bed with a quilt!

I love that we can see the label on the flour sack on the back side.  Sweet!


Singer Red-eye treadle display!

Bobi wants to get this up and running and all she needs is a slide plate, a presser foot and a belt.  Oh, I wished I had my pieces and parts with me so we could have gotten it running.

While sewing didn’t originally happen in the nursery, it is a great way to teach children how the sewing was done in the earlier years.  Bobi does a great job on explaining to groups of children about the crocheted bedspreads, the hardanger and pulled thread lace work and other needle crafts that are present in the mansion, weaving in the importance of these skills and how far women have come since the territory was first populated.

We have come a long way baby, and we still love our handwork!

The bedspreads were gorgeous. I can’t imagine the number of hours that go into a thread crochet bedspread.  I love them as much as I love the quilts!


The second treadle!


The machine reads Homemaker!

I believe this machine to be made by the Domestic sewing machine company due to the odd fiddle shaped base and the height of the machine, the leaf tensioner and the access badge on the front.  I could be wrong,  but that is my strongest guess!  This one is a long bobbin machine, and could also be fixed to working, but the Singer would be much easier to restore.


The library


Gate house/stable under restoration.

It was a wonderful tour and I really enjoyed my week in Montana!  I can’t wait to go back.

Such a beautiful state with a wild wild history and so much to discover!  Montana really is a gem, as are its quilty-people!


There WILL be Quilt-Cam tonight!  I am counting on it, and I hope you are too!  I’m having my eyes dilated this morning, but I should be fine by 9pm. I’ve got some serious sewing to do, so I wil likely be working on some blocks for the next year’s Addicted to Scraps column with Quiltmaker Magazine.  They are due when I go to Golden, Colorado in just over a week.  You may get a sneak preview! Or you’ll just see parts.

Someone else asked if I can share how to sew hour glass blocks for this year’s Leader & Ender challenge.  I’m happy to do that!

Whatever it is, set your alarm for 9pm Eastern tonight and let’s enjoy this evening together.

I’ve also got a surprise!


Quiltville Quote of the Day!

This may be said with tongue in cheek, but I find it amazingly true!

Vintage quilt shared by a student during last week's Helena Montana workshops.

Happy Thursday, everyone!

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  1. Wild West-Stuffing Ballot Boxes! How scandalous! I can imagine sneaking around that mansion.
    I'll be watching to see the Surprise tonight. My Hourglass units ready to leader/ender. I love spinning those center seams!

  2. What a great tour of this old home! So nice to get a behind the scenes tour and linger a little longer in the nursery and ogle the old sewing machine beauties. Looking forward to Quilt Cam with you and other fellow followers; will be nice to hear your voice. Ooooh a surprise!!! I've got my alarm set a few minutes before you start so as not to miss a word!! Hugs, Allison in Plano, Texas, USA

  3. Love the doll quilt and bed!
    Our family uses cloth napkins too. Everyone has a different napkin ring to use. We reuse the same napkins for a few days before washing them. You reuse your own napkin...no chance of using someone else's napkin. It doesn't make economical sense to wash the napkins after every use.our napkin rings are not as elaborate as the ones you show!....but we have quite a collection now. Looking forward to quilt cam!

  4. Sad I cannot make quilt-cam tonight. 9 pm cor you is 5 pm for me, and i need to leave at 6 to go to Anchorage. I'll try to catcha little while I eat dinner! Friday i can watch the whole thing. I love surprises!

  5. Oh boy! I like your surprises'

  6. Darn, I will be at card club tonight. Sorry to miss the cam.

  7. Can't wait for quilt cam-- a welcome change from the conventions. Not sure what I will work on,still piecing garlic knots. Using my fat quarters, I love this block!

  8. Waiting so long for quilt cam - so disappointed. Hope it gets fixed.

  9. I love your tour of the mansion! You were so lucky! Glad you got to see and love touring it by blog and pics! Thank you so much!

  10. I love your tour of the mansion! You were so lucky! Glad you got to see and love touring it by blog and pics! Thank you so much!


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