Most of the ladies gathered at Feasterville’s Playwicki Farm last Tuesday afternoon didn’t know the late Marie Kalberer personally. But they sure do understand the legacy she left behind.
Kalberer, of Feasterville, was a charter member of the Dames of Rocksville Questers – the 40-year-old Newtown-based chapter of the international organization, which works to restore and preserve history. Before her passing, Kalberer left $1,500 to the Dames, who utilized the funds to create a public display showcasing antiques and artifacts related to the history of Playwicki – a local space Kalberer held especially close to her heart.
On Dec. 3, the women, all Questers, convened inside the quaint farmhouse, located at 2350 Bridgetown Pike, to celebrate the display’s unveiling.
Chairing the event was June Olson, a member of the farm foundation board and area Questers chapter, who shared with attendees what made Kalberer such a remarkable individual.
“We all love each other and we’re a great group, but Marie was a charter member of this Questers chapter. She loved history, she loved gardening, she loved animals, she loved people. She loved many, many things,” Olson told the group. “When I think of Marie, you hear people mention the word ‘lady’ and Marie was a lady. She was an absolutely lovely, wonderful person. She never had children, so I think she just kind of adopted all of us. So how fortunate we were that she remembered us in her will.”
According to Olson, Kalberer was a strong supporter of Playwicki Farm, regularly attending functions with her husband.
“I’m so happy that we decided that this is where her bequest should be used,” Olson said.
Currently in the display, which was handmade by a farm foundation member, are a handful of Playwicki-related artifacts. These include a workman’s steel measuring tape from 1920, and a paper weight from 1980, featuring a photograph of Winder Van Artsdalen – a member of the family that owned, lived and worked on the Playwicki property for more than 173 years.
During the dedication ceremony, a plaque in Kalberer’s memory was placed in the display, which Olson said is expected to grow exponentially in the future. A number of archaeological artifacts are stored in an upstairs closet at Playwicki. The foundation hopes to discover what each piece means and unite them all into one cohesive story.
“I think this all fits with what Questers is all about really well,” Olson said. “Our purpose is to learn about the past, to preserve things from the past and also to share what we have learned. So that’s exactly what this display case does.”
Questers began in 1944 in Philadelphia when Jessie Elizabeth “Bess” Bardens came across an interesting syrup pitcher at an antique store while enjoying her lunch hour. The piece, which she placed on the edge of her desk, prompted questions, so Bardens decided to form a lunch discussion forum. Soon after, other small groups began popping up, each comprised of individuals looking to learn about others’ antique collections and share information on their own prized objects. Today, there are chapters in 41 states and two provinces.
“She learned its [the pitcher’s] history and was able to share that, and that was actually the very first Questers meeting,” Olson said.
Additionally, Questers distribute money in the form of preservation grants, with the Dames financially aiding Playwicki in refurbishing its fireplaces in the farmhouse and establishing a wildflower garden.
The Questers typically meet once a month, from September through May, at a Quester home, public place or historical site, such as a museum. Meetings highlight a collection, historic story or historic site, often presented by a Quester member, local collector or other expert. There is also an annual international convention, which works to enhance the experience for members with tours, speakers and mini lyceums. For more information, visit questers1944.org.
Samantha Bambino can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org