History

Founding

Inspired by weaving classes under Elsa Frielinghaus at the Memorial Art Gallery, the Weavers' Guild of Rochester held its first meeting on May 8, 1946, at the gallery on University Avenue. Gallery director Gertrude Herdle Moore provided encouragement and support, while our first president, Dorothy Westgate, provided the leadership for 60 founding members. We took a step forward in the spring of 1951 when we purchased our own loom: a 48" 6-shaft Macomber, which was expanded two years later to 12 shafts. For the next 30 years, guild members could sign up for individual time slots to weave as many as five projects a year. The guild has met in various locations since our founding, with our current home being the First Baptist Church in Pittsford.

Teaching

Holiday Sale

Our “weaving mothers” left to right: Margaret Carr, Ruth Herron and Ruth Holroyd

The guild's teaching legacy spans its entire history. This picture from 1990 shows Ruth Herron [center] who taught Ruth Holroyd [right] who taught Margaret Carr [left]. Many current members trace their weaving knowledge to these "weaving mothers." In 1976, thanks to the initiative of Roberta Bennett, the Rochester Museum and Science Center began sponsoring classes taught by Margaret Carr.

When the museum announced it was ending the weaving program in 2001, a group of guild members – under the leadership of Joyce Robards – founded our own Weaving and Fiber Arts Center, which opened its doors in Village Gate in January 2002. In 2010, the center moved to a storefront location at the Piano Works Mall in East Rochester and in 2017 moved again to a larger location in the mall.

Shows and Sales

We held our first show in 1948 and have continued this effort on and off for decades – with many members fondly recalling the Christmas show and sale at Sibley's department store downtown. Most recently, we hold an annual "Holiday Sale" in early November, which raises funds for the guild and promotes our work and activities to the Rochester community.

Holiday Sale

Shoppers at the Perkins mansion on East Avenue, our Holiday Sale location since 2016

Organization

The guild's legal status has evolved along with the organization. In May 1977 we were granted status as a non-profit organization by the Internal Revenue Service. In June 1990 we incorporated as a not-for-profit business under New York State law. After the establishment of the Weaving and Fiber Arts Center, we applied for a change in our federal non-profit status. A 501(c)3 tax exempt designation was granted by the IRS in June of 2002, allowing tax-deductible donations to the guild. In 2004, to keep pace with our growth, the membership approved the first major revision to the bylaws in many years.

A History of Commitment

With a membership today of roughly 180 weavers and fiber artists, the guild relies on the volunteer efforts of all our members to maintain an active, successful organization. Our purposes continue much as they began more than 70 years ago:

  • To foster development and appreciation of weaving and related textile arts by promoting public interest in the medium.
  • To promote weaving and fiber arts as an educational tool by providing opportunities for study and experience.
  • To hold classes, workshops, and exhibitions and to promote the study of weaving and the related fiber arts.
  • To encourage and promote cooperation and exchange of ideas among weavers and others engaged in weaving and fiber arts.