Preserving tradition through Barn Quilts

Reading Time: 2 minutes

By Denise DuBois

First Methodist Church in Phenix City was the place to be Saturday as friends gathered around pieces of sheet metal with the intention of turning them into beautiful quilt patterns. Barn quilting began in Ohio as a way for a daughter to honor her mother and their heritage and has spread across the country. A barn quilt trail formed in Alabama and has beautiful stops along the way. Quilt patterns are painted on metal canvases and hung on barns and sometimes on community buildings.




Saturday, the Russell County Historical Society and friends painted three quilts.

“We had three people come in from North Alabama from the Alabama Barn Quilt Trail. They brought some materials and instructed us on how to make the quilts,” said Dell McLendon. We wanted to learn how to make them and possibly start our own quilt trail.”

Quilts are part of a family tradition. Seeing a quilting pattern painted on an eight by eight canvas is magical and adds an element class to the side of an old barn. The color just pops.

“I love, love anything historical,” said Joan Budd, who helped paint the quilts Saturday. “It’s just heritage and fun. It’s promoting the historical commission and preserving old barns – adding to it and enhancing it.”

The Russell County Historical Commission hopes to put a few barn quilts around Russell County. Perhaps in Crawford, Fort Mitchell and Cottonton. After posting to social media, Budd got quite the response from people wanting to help on the next few quilts.

This is the first time the Russell County Historical Society has painted barn quilts.

“We’re trying to promote the Russell County area with this project,” McLendon said. “My favorite thing was being together with a mission to create three quilts. It was folks coming together to do something new and different. The next step is to find three locations to put the quilt blocks.”

The Alabama Barn Quilt Trail is a way to see some of the quilts that have been painted. It’s also a nice drive to see rural Alabama. It’s an agricultural tourism project designed to promote travel and community pride by encouraging the public to explore our roads, farms, businesses and historic towns. Barn Quilts are part of what has become known as “The American Quilt Trail Movement” featuring colorful quilt squares painted on barns and buildings throughout the country.

“It is one of the fastest-growing grass roots public art movements in the United States. Tourists come to discover the quilt squares on thousands of barns & buildings scattered along driving trails throughout the nation,” boasts the Alabama Quilt Barn Trail’s Web site.