Little Loomhouse Weaves Art and History for a New Generation
Located on Kenwood Hill in Louisville's South End, the Little Loomhouse has taught generations of children about spinning and hand weaving folk arts and crafts of Kentucky.
Today, thanks to volunteers, the looms are still at work, and visitors young and old are still learning about the art of hand weaving. The facility, a collection of three historic board and batten cabins, is named on the National Register of Historic Places and is the largest repository of textile patterns in the country.
The site owes its beginning to Lou Tate Bousman, a Kentucky native who developed a love of weaving. She traveled Appalachia on horseback and collected traditional coverlet patterns from mountain weavers. She became a noted expert on hand woven textiles, with exhibits in New York and Louisville, and is credited with the invention of the table top, Little Loom.
Lou Tate Bousman moved to the Kenwood Hill cabins to set up her weaving operations. After repeatedly pronouncing Lou Tate Bousman's name in a White House Receiving Line, First Lady Lou Henry Hoover declared, "You are Lou Tate." From that point on, Lou Tate Bousman began using the professional name Lou Tate.
Tate, who founded the Kentucky Weavers Guild and began publication of Kentucky Weaver Magazine, died in 1979, but many of her books and collected patterns remain at the Little Loomhouse.
Famous visitors to the Little Loomhouse include Mildred and Patty Hill, the two Louisville sisters who created the "Happy Birthday" song; First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt and architect Frank Lloyd Wright.
The main cabin, called the Esta Cabin, dates from 1870. It is best known as the site at which the "Happy Birthday" song was sung for the first time. In 1898, the Esta Cabin was purchased by Etta Hest. During a birthday party for Etta's sister Lysette Hest, neighbor Patty Hill changed the words of "Good Morning to All" (a song written by the Hill sisters) into the familiar birthday lyrics. You can read the entire story on the Little Loomhouse's Happy Birthday to You page.
Today, the Esta Cabin serves as a museum for textile samples and weaving and spinning artifacts. The second cabin, Wisteria, houses the Little Loomhouse offices and gift shop. The third cabin, Tophouse, serves as the weaving studio where the Little Loomhouse volunteers provide weaving demonstrations and lessons.
Posted on February 2, 2009 by Ivonne Rovira