The Southeastern Quilt and Textile Museum will not only bring cultural benefits to Carrollton and Carroll County, but it is also expected to provide significant economic benefits.
The museum on Bradley Street in Carrollton will officially open Saturday, Sept. 15.
“I’m of the opinion that this is going to be a huge economic boost for our area as time goes on,” said Carrollton Mayor Wayne Garner, who will be attending the museum opening ceremony.
Leeper, a member of the West Georgia Quilters Guild, believes the museum will benefit not only her Adamson Square quilting supply shop, Qwiltz, but many local businesses.
“It will bring tourists and revenue to our town,” she said. “My hope is that visitors come from all over to the museum and then come here for the supplies. This is really exciting. Restaurants, hotels, even the local Walmart and CVS are going to benefit from tourism. I’m hoping it gets to the point where there’s not a hotel room available and they have to build another hotel. It can mean a lot to Carrollton and Carroll County.”
Garner said Leeper’s assessment of the hotel capacity might be accurate. He said some hotel and motel chains have expressed an interest in Carrollton.
“In the last two months we’ve had several hotel/motel conference center-type people come to Carrollton and kick the tires,” he said.
With the museum, University of West Georgia football games, and Carrollton being the host site for the state GRPA swim meet, high school cross country meet and other events, “it appears to me that those who know the supply and demand side” of the hotel industry will find Carrollton an attractive place to build, Garner said.
Jonathan Dorsey, executive director of the Carrollton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, said that the simultaneous opening of the quilt museum and the dedication of the West Georgia Textile Heritage Trail’s Carrollton segment “celebrates the huge part of our past that was the growing of cotton and manufacturing of thread and fabric goods.”
But it also means a big economic impact in the present and future, Dorsey said.
“As it grows, the quilt museum will bring more and more visitors to Carroll County and downtown Carrollton,” he said. “While they’re here, they will shop, eat and some will stay overnight, finally returning home while their tourism dollars remain here in our economy. The same goes for followers of the Textile Heritage Trail, which takes people to five different locations around the city where sites of textile significance sit near shopping and dining opportunities. The cash crop of our past, cotton and its related fiber products, is once again able to help grow our local economy.”
The fact that both the quilt museum and the textile trail are the first of their kinds in the state of Georgia also raises the profile of the city and the county.
“It proves our community to be a leader in the state in historic preservation and economic development through tourism,” Dorsey said. “These attractions join the parks, recreation, restaurants, arts and special events with which we are already blessed to give travelers even more reasons to come to Carroll County, stay a little longer, see a little more of our great community and, yes, spend a little more money while they’re here.”
Quilting, Garner said, is a great Southern tradition.
“There’s not a Southern-born person, me included, that didn’t have fond memories of quilts,” he said.
Leeper operated her quilt shop in Bowdon for five years, but moved it to Carrollton two years ago when discussions of opening the museum became serious.
“As a quilter, I understand the time and talent that goes into quilting and I think this is a thrilling moment for the entire Southeast as well as Carrollton, Georgia,” she said.
The opening ceremony for the museum is scheduled for 10 a.m. on Sept. 15. The opening exhibit will feature 35-40 quilts made by members of the Carrollton-based West Georgia Quilters Guild.
The museum is scheduled to be permanently housed in the red brick warehouse adjacent to the museum’s current location at 306 Bradley St. The museum is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation. It is governed by a board of directors and has one part-time paid staff member. The Georgia Quilt Council supports the museum, as do numerous quilt guilds throughout the state.