By Theresa Russell
Posted On: Mar 23, 2015
It all started with an idea by Donna Sue Groves who wanted to honor her mother, a noted quilter. The first trail started in Adams County in 2001 and thus began the Quilt Barn movement that spread across the country.
Barn quilts are painted squares that are mounted on a barn or other building.
The original Quilt Barns were in Appalachia, but new trails developed throughout the state and country. Currently there are over 30 counties that have quilt barn trails, so no matter where you live in Ohio, there is surely a Quilt Barn Trail near you.
Many counties have their own names for their particular trails. Lorain County has the Patchwork Trails, Vinton County has a Stitch in Time and Carroll County displays it quilts in the Carroll County Quilt Square Park. Its 14 squares depict culture, history and landmarks in the county.
The quilt patterns are often applied to large sheets of plywood, painted in traditional quilt patterns that reflect something about the area or the artist. They grace barns old and new and provide a site that brings a smile to the faces of those who see them as they pass by.
Many of the quilt barns are set back off the roads and located on private property making close-up viewing difficult.
Some of the squares are projects of 4-H clubs, service groups, or artists, as is the case of Mexican folk artist Rafael Santoyo, who gave the Miami County quilt squares a look all their own through his bright color choices and freehand painting style.
Several counties have websites or brochures with the complete Quilt Barn routes marked out so that you can independently explore these works of art. Other counties offer themed routes for the quilt barns; some are even conducive to exploring by bicycle.
We focused our trip on Urbana and Champaign County. We settled in at the comfortable Scioto Inn and then did loop trips from there. The Quilt Barn route was perfect for introducing us to the area. We even traveled to an area that we had long forgotten but had visited 15 years ago when we researched our Bed, Breakfast and Bike Midwest book. That brought back pleasant memories for us. Serendipitously, we discovered on our route the Champaign Aviation Museum in Urbana, with a fun diner just next door and realized how close we were to the Ohio Caverns, which we had to explore.
If you love the patterns of quilts and need an excuse to plan a day or overnight trip, check out a nearby or faraway county and use the quilt barns map as your guide.