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In an ongoing project, members of the Bonne Terre Historical Society have been accepting donations to refurbish the historic St. Peter’s Episcopal Church building.

Their most recent fundraiser, a raffle for a quilt created by historical society member Janet Murphy, echoes the history of the building.

The church was started by Emile dePuystar Conover, who later became its treasurer, after she wrote a letter to Archdeacon W. M. Walton to ask him to visit Bonne Terre.

In 1908, before it was constructed, its parish, composed of all women, met in a harness shop owned by St. Joe Lead Company.

St. Joe Lead Company President Dwight Jones gave the church a lot and a building valued at $1,500, and then a $100 check for the members to raise money.

The ladies of the church crafted quilt tops and sold them for as much as $50 each. The building was constructed in 1910.

When asked if the quilt to be raffled was similar to the ones that the original members made, Historical Society President Carol Eaton said, “Oh, probably not. Back then it would be made of patchwork, and material they had laying around."

“Of course,” she laughed, “we weren’t around. But hopefully taking from their example, we will go forward and be a success.

The new quilt design, a large three by three pattern of squares, features drawings of Bonne Terre historic buildings. Squares in between the drawings have text, two dividing the city motto, “Good Earth, Good People.” All are against a red, gray, and white pattern with black borders.

The buildings depicted are St. Peter’s Church, Heritage Hall, Shepard House, the Bonne Terre Depot, and the Historic Library.

“Everybody from that I’ve seen from Bonne Terre that sees the quilt says ‘oh, I want that,’” Julie Hahn said.

The new quilt project is not a beneficiary from a donor like St. Joe Lead Company, but is the product of many small inputs.

“[Historical society member] Bonnie Barron came up with the idea,” Eaton said. “Her cousin quilted it, and Bill Bunch drew the pictures.”

Bill Bunch is an artist who grew up in Bonne Terre and specializes in drawing buildings.

“He was the first thing that came out of everybody’s mouth, and he donated the pictures,” Eaton said about a brainstorming session. “So it’s a community effort, isn’t that great?” 

The most recent repair were the windows in March, and the funds will work towards utilities, or additions like a sidewalk.

The church is now used for weddings, reunions, or memorial services.

Bonne Terre was granted the title to the building by the Episcopal Church in 2017 but has been maintained by the city since 2009.

The last parishioner, Pauline Kohler was born in 1908, the year the church began, and died 2010– the building’s centenary.

“That was part of the criteria for taking over the church; that she was the last parishioner left,” Eaton said.

Repairs hit a stride in 2017, when Dwayne Franklin made a donation to help with the exterior.

The quilt will be raffled during the Bonne Terre Cookie Trail in November, and until then will be displayed at The Fancy Crow in Bonne Terre.

Tickets can be purchased at six for $5 at the Fancy Crow, or at Bonne Terre City Hall. Information can be obtained by calling the Bonne Terre Historic Society at 573-358-2260.

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Matthew Morey is a reporter for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at 573-518-3617, or at mmorey@dailyjournalonline.com.

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