Walworth Square building was once a quilt shop
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The site of the former McElwain Quilt Shop is located on the northwest corner of Madison Street, facing Heyer Park, in the village of Walworth. Heyer Park is the square in the center of that community.
According to information in a booklet written by Nancy Lehman, Walworth historian, this building started out as a mercantile store.
McElwain rented part of the building to sell watches, clocks, cut glass and jewelry. His wife, Mary, had a corner of the store where she sold thread, batting and other sewing supplies.
McElwain began selling music supplies and took over the entire building in 1915. In 1930, he retired from the jewelry business.
Mary was known for her beautiful quilts. She exhibited one at the Navy Pier in Chicago just before the Exposition of the Century of Progress, and her fame became widespread. As a result, many well-known people in the Midwest came to Walworth to see her quilts. Lehman also mentions that wives of governors and presidents came to the village.
Mary opened an exchange for quilts and pillows. She worked to develop quilt kits. Soon she had two stores and was sending quilts down to Kentucky to be completed. The Ladies’ Aid Society of the Fontana Community Church also helped finish some of her quilts.
Sears, Roebuck & Co. held a quilt contest as part of the 1933 World’s Fair in Chicago. Mary was one of the judges. The winning quilt was given to first lady Eleanor Roosevelt.
In 1948, Warren Rasmussen, then of Williams Bay, opened a law office on the second floor of the building. The second floor now contains apartments.
In later years, the lower floor was occupied by the Honey B. This was owned by Bruce and Helen Baldwin. Next, Howard and Virginia Hohner operated the Carousel. The building has had a variety of occupants since then.
Lehman’s booklet indicates that there also was a quilt store at 110 N. Main St. That building started out as the Walworth State Bank in 1903.
The village is filled with history. On Aug. 25, residents will celebrate the village’s 175th anniversary. Help the village, which was originally called Douglass Corners, remember its past.