Dating back to around 1789, the Loomcrofters Studio building is among the oldest structures in New Brunswick. While it was initially believed to be approximately 30 years older, dendrochronological analysis (examining core samples from beams and boards) has provided a more accurate date that better aligns with the development of modern Gagetown and Queens County. It may have been built as a British military storehouse or a private residence, but further research is needed to confirm its original purpose.
Around 1945, M. Patricia Jenkins (1912-1985) relocated the historic building a quarter-mile south to its current location on the grounds of Roseneath, her recently acquired heritage home, built by the Honourable Hugh Johnston Jr. circa 1810. The building was then established as the main weaving studio and retail store for the Loomcrofters, operating as such for nearly seven decades and becoming a signature cultural tourism attraction in Gagetown village.
Miss Jenkins founded the Loomcrofters hand-weaving studio in 1939 at the Normal School in Fredericton before moving the enterprise to the historic Gagetown property she purchased in 1941. The Loomcrofters gained worldwide recognition for their expertise in tartan design and production, crafting tartans for the Royal Canadian Air Force (1943), New Brunswick (1959), and the City of Fredericton (1961). They also created hand-woven, official New Brunswick gifts for Princess Elizabeth (1951), Princess Margaret (1958), Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother (1967), and Princess Anne (1973). Employing numerous local weavers over the years, the Loomcrofters remained in operation until the end of 2013.
The well-preserved, one-and-a-half-story Loomcrofters Studio measures 20 x 26 feet, featuring original framing, floors, and interior woodwork. The building has been diligently maintained, with periodic replacement of shingle siding and roofing as needed to protect and preserve the structure, allowing for its continued operation as a prominent business and heritage attraction in Gagetown. Electricity was introduced for lighting, while a traditional wood stove remains the primary heat source.
The building’s contents include historic furniture, cabinets, tables, shelving, and working looms, as well as reproductions of the official gifts to royalty mentioned earlier, remaining stock from the business’s closure, and unused materials such as wool, cotton, and synthetic fibers. Additionally, the complete business archive containing papers, patterns, notes, letters, bills, and invoices is preserved, creating a valuable record.
The Loomcrofters Studio building holds significant historical value as one of the oldest structures in the country. The renowned business represents a turning point in New Brunswick’s arts and crafts development, transitioning from cottage crafts for sustenance to crafting, and in this case, weaving as an art form. In doing so, the Loomcrofters continued and preserved the rich history of weaving in Queens County and New Brunswick, inspiring a revival of the craft. The Loomcrofters Studio is a direct ancestor of the artisan community that now calls Gagetown and Cambridge-Narrows home.
The Loomcrofters Studio, the contents, the archive, the people – the Loomcrofters Studio is without question one of the most complete and important heritage collections in the county, province and nation.
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