Talbot family’s antique looms return to Lincoln’s Hearthside House

Talbot family’s antique looms return to Lincoln’s Hearthside House

From left, Christine Maino, John Scanlon and Kathy Hartley display one of the Talbot family looms donated to the Hearthside House Museum. Other materials including spools, linens and spinning wheels were also given to Hearthside. (Breeze photos by Brittany Ballantyne)

LINCOLN – History has found its way home to Hearthside House.

The Talbot family’s weaving collection, complete with looms that date back to the mid-1700s, has been returned to the Hearthside House Museum.

The Talbots first moved into the Great Road home in 1904 after purchasing the house for $100, and lived at Hearthside until 1926. It was here that the family ran a successful weaving business, although the trade was dying, says Kathy Hartley, president of the Hearthside House Museum.

The family, made up of parents Arnold and Katharine Talbot and their two children, Frances and William, coined the name “Hearthside,” naming the company “Hearthside Looms.”

Now, multiple looms, spools, spinning wheels, fabrics and other tools have returned to the home, and will be on display in the same rooms they were once being used by the family.

Also included in the donated collection are shawls that were handed down to the Talbots, Hartley said, that date back to about 1840, according to the American Textile History Museum.

Even in the early 1900s, Hartley explained, the family was using what they considered antiques to create their wares including fine linens, tablecloths, rugs and bedspreads.

With the closing of the American Textile History Museum, located in Lowell, Mass., where the Talbot goods were on display, comes a new beginning.

“Our goal is to preserve history and the crafts,” Hartley said, explaining that Hearthside will soon host weaving and spinning classes with instructors that specialize in the trades.

The late Arnold Talbot had worked as a secretary of the Tockwotten button company, Hartley said, before he quit his job to start up Hearthside Looms, partially because he feared the art would be lost.

His daughter, Frances, the last of the Talbot weavers, had left her belongings to the museum in Massachusetts, but with a clause that if something happened to the facility, the goods would be handed over to William Talbot, her nephew who lives in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Feeling connected to the home and the Hearthside House Museum’s mission, William wanted the wares to be returned to the site in Lincoln, Hartley said.

This past September, Hartley and John Scanlon said, a crew headed to the American Textile History Museum to pack up the Talbot belongings in trucks and a 12-foot-long trailer.

Scanlon said not only were some of the materials heavy to carry up to the third floor, like the solid oak post component of one of the looms, but tricky to re-assemble.

“It doesn’t come with directions,” Hartley said with a laugh.

She said it took a group to hold up the loom, and piece the wooden structure back together.

Though the transition was overwhelming, Hartley said, “It was a dream come true.”

Fully-guided tours of Hearthside, hosted on select Thursday evenings, will allow folks to see the Talbot exhibit for themselves.

The first tour is scheduled for Thursday, March 30, at the house at 677 Great Road from 6:30 to 7:45 p.m. More information about the tours, classes and other upcoming events, can be found at www.hearthsidehouse.org , or by calling 401-726-0597.

When hosting tours of the home, Hartley said, the refrain from visitors is that they’re marveled by the third-floor room where all the weaving was done decades ago.

That room can be seen from the front of the home, where a small, circular window peeks out at Great Road between two chimneys.

“It’s all come back to the same spot,” she said, something she never imagined would happen.

“It all comes around,” Hartley said.

John Scanlon shows a tool used by the Talbot family, who lived in the historic Hearthside House and operated a weaving company out of the third floor of the home. Family belongings were donated to the museum in Lincoln, which will soon open for tours and weaving and embroidery lessons.
Kathy Hartley, president of Hearthside House, holds up shawls that were handed down to the Talbot family, linens that date back to the 1840s.