Barn quilts finding their way into Henry County

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By Cindy DiFazio

Staff writer/photographer

Situated on a bend in the road along Cedarmore Road near Pleasureville, the geometric red, white and blue vanes of a windmill-patterned quilt square dominate Patsy Brewer’s gray barn.

Brewer, a 50-year Henry County resident, says she first saw pictures of the roadside art form in a country-themed magazine. The photos reminded her of her beloved grandmother, Nora Chisholm, an avid quilter who recently passed away.

Brewer recalls that her grandmother spent the last few months of her life piecing quilt squares in the Chain pattern. “Quilting helped her through the hard times,” she said.

Brewer said it wasn’t easy picking a pattern for her barn quilt. “I like to never made up my mind,” she said. Brewer first looked for patterns her grandmother used, but found that designs favored by some quilters are too intricate to reproduce as barn quilt squares. She decided on the Windmill after researching it on the the internet and looking at prototypes fashioned by barn quilt designer, Pat Ishmael of Maysville.

Even though Brewer’s barn is located a little bit off the main road she has gotten a lot of feedback from passersby. “You’d be surprised how many people mention seeing it,” she said. “I see people slow down to look at it all the time.”

Patsy Bramlett’s “Trip Around the World” barn quilt can be seen just south of Pleasureville on U.S. 421. It was fashioned by the Buffalo Gals Homemakers Club out of Stamping Ground. Bramlett said the Stamping Ground group has crafted and erected between 75 and 100 barn quilts in the Georgetown/Stamping Ground area. “They want to preserve the history of quilt design,” she said.

There is a good reason that Bramlett chose the colorful design that hangs on her beautiful red barn. “I always wanted to take a trip around the world,” she said.

The barn quilt, as it is known, has its origins in Ohio. In 2003 Donna Sue Groves honored her mother, fifth-generation quilter Nina Maxine Groves, by painting a Snail’s Trail pattern on the side of their barn in Adams County.

Groves’ idea is to develop a driving tour of painted quilt squares to stimulate tourism. She imagines the National Quilt Barn Trail as a “clothesline” of quilt squares linking barns across the nation.

The Kentucky Quilt Trail meanders through eight Kentucky counties - Bath, Carter, Elliott, Greenup, Menifee, Montgomery, Morgan and Rowan. Closest to Henry County is the Interstate 64/U.S. 60 trail that passes from Grayson to Mt. Sterling.

Henry County Extension Agent Maryellen Garrison said that Henry County’s participation in the Kentucky Quilt Trail is still in the beginning stages, with just three barn quilts in the county. Garrison hopes that interest will pick up and soon there will be enough barn quilts in the area to warrant the creation of a tour map. Bramlett said that she knows of three more barn quilts soon to be erected in the county.

More information can be found on the internet at www. kentucky.gov/Newsroom/travel/quiltbarnstrail.htm or contact Maryellen Garrison at 845-2811.

E-mail us about this article at news@hclocal.com.