Quilt museum leaves downtown Harrisonburg, and city looks to use its historic building

A sign saying "we have moved" outside an old, stately white house.
The Virginia Quilt Museum relocated in June down the road from Harrisonburg at Silver Lake Mill in Dayton. (Photo by Ryan Alessi)

Downtown Harrisonburg bid goodbye to the Virginia Quilt Museum on Saturday, as it moved five miles down the road to Silver Lake Mill in Dayton and prepares to reopen June 29.

It’s a “better setup” for the museum, Virginia Quilt Museum Executive Director Alicia Thomas said, as Silver Lake Mill will allow for more open space to display the museum’s collection of 291 quilts, adding that the building will also be accessible to those with disabilities.

“Not only is that great for visitors, but we actually lose out on a lot of funding because … we’re not fully accessible right now,” Thomas said. “So that’s one of our big reasons.”

A two-story white painted house with columns on the front porch.
The historic Warren-Sipe House on South Main Street will revert to the city’s ownership after the Quilt Museum moves in June. (Photo by Ryan Alessi)

The Virginia Quilt Museum has been in the Warren-Sipe House — a historic house with many rooms located off of South Main Street that’s roughly 8,000 square feet. In the move to Silver Lake Mill, Thomas said the museum will just have two open galleries totalling about 9,000 square feet.

“We’re hoping to still have a presence in downtown Harrisonburg and take part in some of the Harrisonburg festivals, and just make sure people really know that we haven’t moved all that far,” she said.

Kate Read, the museum’s curator, said the move will help the Virginia Quilt Museum to grow and expand its collection to “reach even more folks.” 

The extra space the museum will have in Silver Lake Mill will allow the staff to create more activities and opportunities for larger groups of people, she said. 

The Warren-Sipe House will revert back into the City of Harrisonburg’s ownership when the museum moves, Mike Parks, the city’s director of communications, said in an email.

“While we are currently very early in the process of discussing a future use for this Downtown location, our conversations have and will continue to focus on the historic nature of this structure and the important role it can play in The Friendly City for many years to come,” Parks said. “We wish all involved with the museum all the best in their new home and are grateful that it will remain only a short ride away.”

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