in Association with Shelburne Museum of Vermont
The Brick House was the Vermont home of Shelburne Museum's founder Electra Havemeyer Webb and her husband James Watson Webb. The Brick House and 1,000 acres of land were a wedding gift from Watson's parents in 1913. Over the next decade Mrs. Webb directed two additions to transform the modest 19th century farmhouse into a 40-room masterpiece of the Colonial Revival style with sweeping, awe-inspiring views of Lake Champlain and the Adirondack Mountains of New York.
The Brick House is a family house steeped in the traditions of an earlier time. It is filled with rich and unusual Americana collected by Mrs. Webb. The gardens were designed by noted landscape designer Ellen Biddle Shipman. The surrounding panoramic landscape was designed by world-renowned Frederick Law Olmsted who also designed the grounds for the U.S. Capitol and Central Park in New York City.
Initially The Brick House was primarily used as a family retreat, but as Electra's collection grew she used the rooms to experiment with different ideas for displaying her findings. Windham's premier collection with the Shelburne museum comes from one particular room in the house in which Electra essentially wallpapered the entire room with a quilt top. The Brick House was in effect a proto-museum and many of the decorating and exhibition themes were later transferred to Shelburne Museum in the late 1940s and 1950s. Electra Webb is the only woman collector in America to create and endow a major art and outdoor history museum. She acquired dozens of buildings and thousands of objects to fulfill her vision of offering an engaging place for the public to visit; a place where visitors would learn about ingenuity, craftsmanship, and the great tradition of American creativity. Mrs. Webb made Shelburne Museum the country's first museum to formally showcase quilts as works of art. In 1954 she moved a barn to the grounds and created unique gallery spaces within it for textiles. This gallery held America's first major collections of quilts on public view. Shelburne Museum has one of the largest and best-quality collections of quilts and bedcovers in the United States with new acquisitions added regularly.
The Brick House is unique both as an influential example of the Colonial Revival style and as a rare surviving home of a major American museum founder. It was designated an official Save America's Treasuresâ in 2001 and in 2004 opened to public tours following extensive preservation work. Windham Fabrics is proud to partner with The Shelburne Museum and looks forward to presenting unique and varied quilting collections for years to come. For more information about the Shelburne Museum, and the fascinating life of its founder Electra Havemeyer Webb, please visit www.shelburnemuseum.org.