Group hopes to expand Foothills Quilt Trail into PolkPublished 6:54pm Wednesday, January 30, 2013
Quilt patterns such as “Log Cabin” and “Carolina Lily” now grace the outside of buildings across Landrum as the beginnings of the Foothills Quilt Trail.
Members of the Landrum Quilters launched this effort last year to place quilt blocks throughout town. Now other creative minds want to see if the trail could one day stretch through Polk and even Rutherford counties.
“Each quilt block has a story that goes with it, so we are all really learning a lot about Landrum’s history,” said Ellen Henderson of the Landrum Quilters. “The stories that we are hearing are something really worth preserving and we can do that in a really unique way not only for Landrum but surrounding areas.”
A collaborative group of individuals set off to Walhalla, S.C. Tuesday, Jan. 29 to learn more about the making of barn quilts in hopes of generating ideas and understanding what it would take to expand on the Landrum Quilter’s effort.
John Vining of the Polk County Cooperative Extension, Ellen Henderson of the Landrum Quilters, Susan Lester of the Rutherford Quilters, Stephen Bishop and Laura Brookshire of the Mill Spring Ag Center, Julie McIntyre of Tryon Arts and Crafts, Marjorie Womack of Quiet Quilters of Polk and Molly Dunn of the Landrum Area Business Association also made the trek.
“They’re a great way to combine art, agriculture and heritage, and they’re becoming a popular form of agro-tourism,” said Brookshire.
Dating back to the 1800s, barn quilts are quilt designs painted on boards and then mounted on a barn or other building. According to legend, many farmers hoped the designs would ward off evil spirits they believed caused lightning to strike barns or livestock to fall sick. Eventually, specialized painters began showing up at farms offering to paint the designs, and the route of the painter could be traced throughout the countryside.
These days, two major quilts trails are already established nearby: The Upstate Heritage Quilt Trail based out of Walhalla, S.C., and Quilts Trails of western North Carolina based out of Burnsville, N.C. Both quilt trails have more than 100 quilt blocks to explore.
Last year, the City of Landrum in partnership with the Landrum Quilters received a grant from the Polk County Community Foundation to start the Foothills Quilt Trail. Since receiving the grant, five barn quilts have been placed on buildings in Landrum, including the library and city hall.
Dunn, president of the Landrum Area Business Association, said she thought it would be a great addition to the town.
“There are already quilt tours and trails that exist and many people make it part of their vacation to go view these quilt blocks,” Dunn said. “This will bring in a whole other level of interest in the town.”