Around the winding back roads of Franklin County, some drivers may spot a few buildings with the kind of character that comes with an artistic touch. They’re jazzed up with barn quilts -- decorative 4-by-4 painted boards nailed on barns, sheds and garages.
They really look like a sewn quilt. Each was designed by the owner to put their creativity on display. In Franklin County it’s estimated more than 90 barn quilts already decorate the farms and home site of residents, and recently a local class focused on how to make them.
Virginia Tech Cooperative Extension held a class on Oct. 30 at Oak Grove Church of the Brethren on the painting and prepping of barn quilts. Ideally, the concept will result in a barn quilt trail that will premier via a website and driving trail in Franklin County. It is a new tourist initiative that requires little funding but can benefit the economy of the county, organizers said.
According to extension employee Carol Haynes, the extension has held classes previously and hopes to keep offering the classes. People can check the Franklin News-Post for the next class, she noted. “We have had people come here just to ride and look at the barn quilts. Those folks eat, buy gas and shop to add to the economy of the county.”
Steve Middleton worked on his first barn quilt. “I am going to put it on my garage, but it will not be visible from the road,” he said. Karen Kinsey worked diligently on her red and green barn quilt. “I plan to put it on my horse barn that mostly holds chickens and goats,” she said with a laugh.
Cindy Brooks has three barn quilts at her home. She worked from a designed sketch. “I have made 12 barn quilts, but only three are at my house,” she said.
Matt and Dulcie Hankins said they plan to place their creation at Wood Grains in downtown Rocky Mount next to the Farmer’s Market.
Libby Bondurant and Pat Jones are the innovators for the barn quilt trail. “We came back from Roan Mountain, Tennessee, after a barn quilt trail trip. It made us think this was ideal for Franklin County,” Bondurant said.
Recently, they led a tour of the quilts already on display throughout the county and finished with a meal and tour at Katherine Grace Manor. “We will probably have another barn quilt painting class after Christmas,” said Haynes said. The county and the organizers are putting together a driving map, to be available soon on the county website.