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home : arts & entertainment : arts & entertainment October 15, 2018

7/6/2010 1:44:00 PM
Quilt tells story of Tollgate community
Tollgate quilters have put together a piece that represents the life of the community just west of town. photo by Oenta Gentry
+ click to enlarge
Tollgate quilters have put together a piece that represents the life of the community just west of town. photo by Oenta Gentry

Tollgate is a community with a story, a story that defines community in a way many would consider a throwback to an earlier time. With nearly the same population as the City of Sisters, Tollgate has that small-town feel of a neighbor-helping-neighbor kind of place.

As business manager for Tollgate Property Owner's Association, Betty Fadeley takes her direction from Tollgate's volunteer board of directors; she was also a resident for 25 years. Last year she and Lynda Murphy came together with an idea of creating a quilt that told Tollgate's story.

The idea resulted with 13 Tollgate quilters making a quilt of 18 squares plus a name banner and a decorative top border of the Sisters mountain range of Faith, Hope, and Charity. Both borders were made by Murphy and Nola Belding.

"Y" seams, hours of work, and years of dedication. Close inspection of the squares reveals a small border around some of the edges to create uniform pieces. There are even some filler squares.

"I brought along these filler squares when we put the quilt together, not knowing what anyone's squares looked like," Belding said. "It was pure coincidence that my filler squares matched the colors of the other squares."

Tollgate street names are embroidered around the individual squares. Another, almost eerie, coincidence is that Shireen Hattan, the quilter who did the embroidery, correctly placed more than one fourth of the quilters' street names next to the piece they created. She didn't know who were the creators of any of the quilt pieces.

Fadeley's log cabin square contains a red center heart, the piece Murphy recommended she make. What Fadeley didn't know, because she is not generally a quilter, was that the red square represented the heart of the community. Murphy felt Fadeley's office represented the heart of the Tollgate community.

Most of the quilters' squares portray a view of their own backyard.

"That's a deer that always eats my flowers, the geese that land in my yard and the stream that flows through my yard," said Brown.

James McCready created a unique square utilizing texture to add dimension to the trees. Fadeley recognized the specific tree he quilted:

"It's one of those bent trees native peoples used to point the way along the trail. It lines up with Wagon Wheel. Someone wanted to cut it down and I said no, it's a piece of history."

Tomlinson made the center winter snow pine tree and the burnt autumn pine to its right.

"Betty just said, 'when you think of Tollgate, what do you think of,'" Tomlinson said. "And I think of a pine tree."

The idea of a community quilt was hatched nearly four years ago in 2006 and grew piece by piece.

"We met not knowing that each of us wanted to talk about the same thing," Murphy said of her conversation with Fadeley four years ago. "It was a goose-bump moment."

Several people came together over the years, contributing supplies and ideas. In the end, Nola Belding and Lynda Murphy arranged the squares, and Shireen Hattan did the final quilting. One contributor to the quilt, Barbara Walters, is not a quilter, so she painted her square.

The Tollgate quilt is currently displayed at their community center for special events.

Reader Comments

Posted: Thursday, July 9, 2015
Article comment by: Lavoy Masters

This is the first time I have read this story of how the quilt came about. Amazing how well things work out when folks work together on a project. Tollgate is a very special, friendly neighborhood, thanks for creating such a lovely piece of
history to "show off" our little community.

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