A patchwork of color is popping up on historic barns all over the country, and the trend is a boon for rural tourism. Our friends at American Style report on the grassroots art movement of barn quilts:
Colorfully painted quilt squares have appeared on barns throughout eastern Kentucky, often representing traditional, local patterns. The local electric company even lends its equipment to mount the panels. State arts organizations are now working to organize the effort, in hopes of driving tourism to rural areas.
Barn quilts—colorful painted blocks eight feet square or larger—started in Ohio in 2001, reports Agriculture Online, and can now be found through Tennessee, Kentucky, West Virginia, North Dakota, and North Carolina. Oh, and several counties in Iowa, too.
Many projects are sponsored by community groups like the Buffalo Gals Homemakers of Stamping Ground, Kentucky, and have generated local news coverage. Some, such as the Appalachian Quilt Trail sponsored by the Alliance for American Quilts, the Clinch-Powell Resource Conservation and Development Council, and the Kentucky Quilt Trails, are perfectly tailored for the tourist looking for a scenic Sunday drive. To see more quilt barns check out these Flickr photos or the quilted barns photo pool, also on Flickr.
America has been losing its historic agricultural buildings for decades, writes the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The number of farms has been slashed by two-thirds since the 1920s. “Literally millions of barns and other agricultural structures have lost their original reason for existing.”
Not only are these quilt squares lovely to look at and interpret, they are helping to preserve a piece of American heritage.
- Nat Geo Expeditions
Photos: Top, tnserose; right Citizen110.