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Quilt trail adds two Franklin County barns

The Alabama Barn Quilt Trail, established in early 2016, began expanding beyond Lauderdale County in June and is now stretching into Colbert and Franklin. Two Franklin County barn-owners have been approved and are already in the process of choosing their quilt square designs.

According to trail coordinator Dale Robinson, funding for the trail comes in part from the North Alabama Resource Conservation and Development Council as well as Alfa.

“The idea is to promote agricultural tourism for the area,” Robinson said. “People are going to be driving by and taking photographs; they need to be able to see the barn and block clearly and hopefully have a safe place to pull over to snap pictures.”

The barn quilt blocks, Robinson said, “are hand-painted and provided to barn owners whose barns are approved by the Barn Quilt Trail Committee free of charge,” Robinson said. “The pattern for each barn quilt block is unique and must also be approved by the trail committee. It must be based on a traditional quilt block pattern.”

David Jordan, who lives on a piece of property on Highway 177 in Tharptown that has been in his family since 1961, had already purchased paint supplies to create his own barn quilt square last year but hadn’t had time to get around to it. He said he and wife Marilyn were thrilled when they learned of the Alabama Barn Quilt Trail and applied right away. He is looking forward to seeing the quilt block installed on the front of the barn.

“I think they’re neat. It’s part of what this property is – it’s what we want our image to be,” Jordan said. His barn has long captured the attention of neighbors and passersby – one random stranger even asked if she could have her wedding in front of the barn, to which the Jordans obliged.

Rick and Wanda Hargett live on family property on Highway 187 in Belgreen, and their barn has similarly captured the attention of onlookers. The Hargetts have already selected a pattern, and the creation of their quilt block is underway.

“They chose a pattern based on a quilt Mrs. Hargett’s mother made,” Robinson said. “The pattern is called a Dresden Plate, and she wants to use a block from that quilt and keep the colors true to the family quilt. We like to encourage families to try and find an appropriate family heirloom quilt to recreate a block from – it makes the barn quilt block that much more special for them … We like for the families to be involved and excited about their block.”

Rick said the old barn is something people are fixated on in the Belgreen community. “Everybody wants a picture of the old barn,” he said. The Hargetts themselves have taken family portraits at barn with their children and grandchildren.

The old barn, built in the 1940s, has had some updates over time – the roof had to be replaced after a tornado tore off the original one, and Rick also installed a new front left door.

“His grandfather built the barn, and then his father had the barn, and now he has it, so it’s third generation,” Wanda said. The barn still features an old hay rack and makes a great place for Rick to house all his equipment and supplies for gardening, bush hogging and other upkeep. Wanda said the barn has been the subject of paintings in addition to being a backdrop for photographs.

“We’ve been really excited (to join the quilt trail),” Wanda added. “We’re just honored to be chosen.”

The Jordans’ barn has the look of a decades-old structure, even though it’s just three or four years old. David said he wanted the working barn, where he houses his eight horses, to look historic even though it wasn’t.

“I’m proud of this place. It’s what I want it to look like,” David said. “This my dream; this is part of who I am and what I want to do.”

These two barns are the first in Franklin County to be approved to join the trail as it expands. “Both of the barns met our guidelines perfectly,” Robinson said. “They are both clearly visible from a public road. Both are in good repair. The area around both barns is neat and tidy and not cluttered with debris or overgrown with brush. And both of them have a place that offers people passing by a safe area to pull off the road so that they could take pictures if they wanted to.”

Robinson said the trail committee will accept as many barns across the county that meet the guidelines. Barn candidates should be of old wood, visible from the road, in good repair and with tidy surroundings.

The trail, Robinson said, is coordinated by volunteers, and more volunteers are always welcomed. “We are a small group of volunteers, and we are looking for anyone who may have an interest in getting involved in any capacity – whether it be scouting barn candidates, painting blocks or raising money,” Robinson said.

To suggest a barn or volunteer, email alabamabarnquilts@gmail.com. For more information visit the Alabama Barn Quilt Trail page on Facebook.