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Mother-Daughter Team Open Quilting Store Downtown
Historic Bank Building
Mother Joan Witt, left, with daughter Leanne Jones-Cruz, teamed up to open a new business in an historic downtown building. The Riverbank Quilt Company has opened in the former Delta Bank building on the corner of Third and Santa Fe streets, across from city hall. Ric McGinnis/The News

An historic building in downtown Riverbank has new tenants and a new use.

Ancient sewing equipment is scattered among the fabric bolts and samples throughout the former First National Bank (later Delta Bank) building, as a mother-daughter team opened the Riverbank Quilt Company there this past week.

The first floor, corner of Third and Santa Fe streets establishment was built circa 1911, according to Historical Society archives. Upstairs are a number of apartments and down the Third Street side, across from City Hall South, there are several smaller store fronts. At one time, the Riverbank News office was located in one of them. A photography studio occupied one for a time, and while the Rotary Club maintained the Cheese and Wine event, they had an office in one, as well.

Mom Joan Witt, along with daughter Leanne Jones-Cruz, are fourth-generation quilters according to Jones-Cruz, who is also a member of the Riverbank City Council. She credits her grandma Carol for getting her interested. There are several family quilts on the walls of the new store.

“It’s been a dream of mine for my retirement, but I’m not ready to retire yet,” she said. “My mom’s going to run the shop while I’ve got a few more years to work.”

Jones-Cruz works at Enochs High School, for the Modesto City Schools district. When summer is over, she’ll return to the classroom, but be able to keep the after school job.

She was a little worried on opening day, because an original investor pulled out on June 1, leaving her short of some stock she would have preferred to have had available. But the grand opening celebration went on as scheduled, with community members coming in to support the new venture.

The building, 3300 Santa Fe, most recently was used full time as the Chamber of Commerce office, but that closed when the chamber became inactive a few years ago. It currently has been revived but has no permanent home.

In the interim, the bank lobby has been used temporarily by a business or two. Almost 10 years ago, Rio Arts, a community theatre organization in Riverbank, used the location for its Auction for the Arts, to raise money to put on its Shakespeare in the Park show that summer.

The quilters have chosen to retain the fixtures and decor of the bank, including its expansive granite counters and shelves. Even the chandeliers remain.

The mother-daughter business pair are also prominently displaying antique sewing equipment, including several old Singer sewing machines and a White.

It was interesting to note at the Friday opening the juxtaposition of modern technology, surrounded by all the historical ambiance. Instead of a cash register, the team is using an iPad, which can also handle credit card transactions with an adapter attached.

The new store will be open 10 a.m. through 6 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday.