Of quilts, quarters and quirks of history

May is National Historical Preservation month. - Contributed photo / San Juan Islands Visitors Bureau
May is National Historical Preservation month.
— image credit: Contributed photo / San Juan Islands Visitors Bureau

If April showers bring May flowers, as the saying goes, then the San Juans ought to be bursting with color and fragrance in the weeks ahead.

But there’s a lot more to the month of May than petal power, or margaritas, for that matter. In fact, for history buffs, it just maaay be time of the year, as May also doubles as National Historic Preservation Month. And there is a lot in store.

American Camp“Quilts, Quarters and Quirks of History” is the theme of the many exhibits, tours, lectures and special events that will be on hand as part of this year’s commemoration of National Historic Preservation Month. Below are a few of the highlights ahead; for a complete list of events, dates, locations and times, visit,

Quilt Exhibits: The Lopez and Orcas Historical Societies will present new exhibits and programs that feature historic and contemporary quilts. The central theme will be quilts as carriers of community and women’s history, with an emphasis on signature quilts. See listings below.

Open Quarters and Quirks of History: A fireside talk, “Legacy of American Camp,” at San Juan Island Library, May 30, will commemorate the long history of the camp’s structures during and after what is most likely the oddest titled conflict in history—the “Pig War”—a territorial dispute between the U.S. and Great Britain in which the only causality was a pig. San Juan Island National Historical Park’s officers’ quarters, laundresses and other historical structures will be open May 31 for touring at American Camp.

Friday Harbor Walking Tours: Three guided walks, May 3, May 24 and May 31 will highlight historic structures in downtown Friday Harbor and portray the past as long-time islanders lived and remember it.Oldtimer Cars


Event Details:

Quilt Events:

May 7–June 22: Orcas Historical Museum - Orcas Island Quilt Show, and featured speaker at the Museum on May 11.

May 9–18: Quilts as Carriers of Community and Women’s History exhibit, Lopez Island Historical Museum - A display of signature quilts made by the Lopez community beginning in the late-1800s. Hours, noon-4 p. m.

May 15–17: Lopez Island, various locations, Quilt History Retreat or a la carte events, include Quilt Restoration, Show and Tell, display of Edgar Collection of Early British. Quilt historian and past-president of The Quilters Hall of Fame, Karen Alexander, will present many of these events.

May 18: Orcas Island, Orcas Senior Center, Eastsound, 3:30 p.m. Orcas Island Ship Quilt Show, A Community Story.

Other Events:

SaloonMay 3: Historic Downtown Friday Harbor, 10 a.m. Guided tour tells the story of Friday Harbor’s heritage through the buildings and people you will meet as you walk the downtown. Begins at Memorial Park.

May 14: San Juan Island, San Juan County Parks, 6-9 p.m. Annual Historic Brann Cabin ol’ Fashioned Bake-Off and bonfire.

May 21: Friday Harbor, San Juan Grange Hall, 7 p.m. The Grange Hall History: free history talk. From church to grange, a fascinating evolution.

May 24: Historic Churches of Friday Harbor,  1-4 p.m. Guided tour starts at the Catholic Church on Price Street. Tour Friday Harbor’s historic religious sites, all have a rich story to tell. Meet at St. Francis Church on Price Street.

May 31: Friday Harbor, San Juan Island, 10 a.m. Sunshine Alley: free guided history walking tour. Meet at Brickworks on Sunshine Alley. Local historian Boyd Pratt’s talk will focus on the evolution of the Alley; discover its secrets, how it changed over time, and the people who lived and worked there.Officers Quarter

For more information on May’s History Lives Here events, specials and packages may be found on San Juan Islands Visitors Bureau’s “History Page”, For further information call 888-468-3701, ext. 1.


We encourage an open exchange of ideas on this story's topic, but we ask you to follow our guidelines for respecting community standards. Personal attacks, inappropriate language, and off-topic comments may be removed, and comment privileges revoked, per our Terms of Use. Please see our FAQ if you have questions or concerns about using Facebook to comment.

Read the Oct 19
Green Edition

Browse the print edition page by page, including stories and ads.

Browse the archives.

Friends to Follow

View All Updates