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Barn Quilts in Rural America

Colorful and inspiring, barn quilts liven up the rural landscape with patchwork patterns.

| January/February 2011

  • Snail's Trail
    A Snail’s Trail barn quilt, owned by Donna Sue Groves, Manchester, Ohio, turns
    courtesy Donna Sue Groves
  • Lady of the Lake
    Driving the back roads north of Sturtevant, Wisconsin, allows travelers to see one of Racine County’s barn quilts, the Lady of the Lake.
    Bill Nelson
  • Neubauer Farm Barn Quilt
    Another of Racine County’s barn quilts, in a Black-eyed Susan pattern, can be found at the Neubauer Farm, northwest of Racine.
    courtesy Racine County Convention and Visitors Bureau
  • Soni’s Blackford Beauty
    Soni’s Blackford Beauty graces a barn owned by Leon and Soni Wolfe, Darlington, Wisconsin.
    courtesy Mary Jo Stutenberg

  • Snail's Trail
  • Lady of the Lake
  • Neubauer Farm Barn Quilt
  • Soni’s Blackford Beauty

Drivers are taking note of a colorful new crop sprouting up all across rural America – king-size quilt blocks mounted on back-road barns. The brightly painted designs, patterned after traditional quilt blocks, are placed on plywood sheets often using an 8-by-8-foot scale so they’re easy to see from the road. The quilts offer a comforting slice of Americana, and movement organizers hope that eventually, like a clothesline, quilts on barns will stretch across the nation.  

Why such enthusiasm for these colorfully adorned barns and, in a few cases, garages, corncribs and other rural buildings? 

“We want to entice people to take roads less traveled, to visit businesses and rural locations they might not otherwise encounter,” says Mary Jo Stutenberg of Cuba City, Wisconsin, whose barn carries an “American Pride” pattern.  

A matter of choice 

The choice of pattern for Mary Jo and Mark Stutenberg couldn’t be more appropriate. 

“It’s a tribute to our son who served 15 months in Iraq and to our fathers who served in World War II,” Mary Jo says. “We absolutely love it. The barn looks better than it has in a long time.” 

Her county – Lafayette, in southern Wisconsin – now has close to a dozen mounted quilt patterns, with more to come. 

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