I know you have seen them off in the distance – a bright splash of color on an old barn. These are “Barn Quilts” and they are a great tribute to our heritage and “the art of rural America.” They honor our long-gone quilters, like my mother Chloe.
Quilt trails are popping up everywhere the U.S.A. and Canada. You can see them all over the mountains of North Carolina and now we have a trail here in eastern North Carolina. The first barn quilt in Martin County (part of the Tar-Roanoke River Trail) was on the Pack House barn at Big Mill Bed & Breakfast. We now have 12 quilts installed in our county – and more to come.
These quilts are more than just pictures painted on a barn. They each tell a story – who made them, why they were made, how they were made. They were created with love and not just for comfort. They were painstakingly created and each is beautiful in its own way.
The Martin County, NC, Arts Council joined the Franklin County, NC, Arts Council Tar River Quilt Trail and now it is the Quilt Trails of the Tar and Roanoke Rivers. Barney Conway and Martin County Travel and Tourism Authority have been instrumental in making this happen.
I heard about these Barn Quilts some years ago and knew I had to have one honoring my mother, Chloe. I already had the perfect barn here at Big Mill B&B that my father built in 1935. How fitting: Ops made the barn and Chloe Lavenia made the quilt. She made many quilts, but I picked the one she and her friends made for the Bicentennial in 1976. Of course, it is red, white, and blue. Some of the quilts are painted directly on the barns. The Barn Quilt at Big Mill was painted on wooden squares and then hoisted up onto the barn. You can see the finished quilt on Chloe’s Blog – and, of course, on the barn.
Map of Martin County’s Barn Quilts
Sad Note: The Fish Tales Quilt that was at the Cypress Grill is no longer there. The wonderful old Cypress Grill Burned in 2018. We lost a real treasure.
FOR MORE INFORMATION about the Tar-Roanoke River Quilt Trail: