If you’ve walked the west end of Court Street, or visited LouAllen Farms, or just walked around the county looking at the flowering trees and emergent foliage and enjoying the sunshine, you may have noticed the beautiful artwork on some of the buildings, especially the barns.
These works of art were donated free to barn and building owners by the generous people who work with the Alabama Barn Quilt Trail (alabamabarnquilttrail.org). It’s not often you come across an organization that wants to give you something for free and really has no strings attached, but this one does exactly what it says.
The only real qualification is that the barn is viewed from the road without tourists having to come to your property. Indeed, the barn quilt squares will be part of a barn quilt trail throughout Alabama. Working with the help of a grant from the Alabama State Council on The Arts which provides sheet metal, paint and other supplies, a cadre of talented artists and dedicated people who fell in love with the idea of this project make it possible.
Last fall the historic Farmer’s Gin on Court Street, near the high school and ball fields, was the first to be placed in Moulton town centre, although there are already several hanging from barns throughout the county. The Gin is now owned by the town of Moulton and meetings have taken place to try and ensure the building is put to good use rather than becoming another casualty due to ‘progress’.
Permission was given and the sign was designed to fit the building by Carol Carraway Terry, a local artist who uses projects like this as a way to give back to the community where she was born and raised . Terry designed the cotton capsule against a purple and black background and his sketch was transferred to a pattern and cut out of sheet metal by designer Dale Robinson and his wife Lisa, along with founding band member Regina Painter, and other volunteers then painted the square. Sometimes the waiting list can reach two years, but people are always surprised and satisfied with the results.
According to Robinson, there are now barn quilts in every state in the country as well as in every Canadian province. “It’s the largest grassroots public art movement in the country,” Robinson said proudly, and rightly so. The alabamabarnquilttrail.org site indicates that there are currently 156 blocks in Alabama.
When the quilt square was ready to be assembled, the project was given to Collis Pointer, owner of Pointer’s Lawn and Tree Care, who also does contract work for the city. It was through the dedication of Collis Pointer that the patriotic flags bearing photos of Lawrence County Veterans were erected each Veterans Day and he assisted with the lovely baskets that hang in the summer. Not to mention the Christmas decorations and lights!
Pointer volunteered his time and equipment to place the Farmer’s Gin Square on the metal building, which is no small feat considering he was working with only one other operator and had to find the right place to support the weight of the panel plus a metal frame that he made. in his shop. “The frame gave the piece more stability,” he explained. Including the construction of the frame and the instillation of the work, he devoted approximately eight hours of his time to the project at no cost to the city. His efforts were noticed and appreciated by people who commented on the sign and how he improved the gin.
Another recent addition to the Lawrence County Barn Quilt Trail is the beautiful barn-mounted quilt square of Dana and Vickie Yarbrough who live on Old Hillsboro Road. The square was a special project made because of Dana’s battle with cancer. The quilt pattern was discovered by her eldest daughter, Robin Randolph, among some of the possessions of her late grandmother, Marion Yarbrough.
“We never found out if they belonged to her or her mother,” added the youngest sister, Abby Yarbrough Marquis.
After submitting a photo of the barn, taken from the road and a photo of the quilt square, Robin was informed that the quilt square had been accepted and work began at an accelerated pace. It was delivered before the holidays but the area was too wet to install it until recently. It was installed by a family friend and is now listed on the Alabama Barn Quilt Trail.
The old barn means a lot to this family. The Yarbroughs have three grown daughters who have watched their father come and go from the barn for as long as they can remember. “He’s always been so proud of his cows and his land,” says Abby. “He worked so hard to get what he has and to give us what we needed.”
The 90 year old barn, purchased from Mr Ed Holland, has been in the Yarbrough family for around thirty years and now provides a place to play for the fourth generation. It is both sentimental and practical, and is still used. All three girls have fond memories of playing in the barn. Everyone remembers bottle-feeding the calves in the spring and giving hay to the cows in the winter.
Their father is their hero, a local painter, he often worked mornings painting houses and then afternoons and evenings in a factory in Decatur. The barn would be their common ground when he was home, he was always there, so they were there to follow him around and just help him spend time with him.
For Dana, the gentle sound of rain beating rhythmically on the old tin roof has always provided her with a peaceful place to work. His wife, Vickie, says sometimes she thinks he loves that barn almost as much as he loves his family. “He always says it’s more like a hobby for him,” Vickie said.
The barn is another common thread in their family’s memory, a place where everything was safe when they were younger, before cancer. “One thing this cancer hasn’t done is drive us apart,” Abby said, “If anything, it’s brought us closer.”
These old barns were built to last, and it’s sad that so many have been left to decay or demolished in the name of progress to make way for more storage units, shopping centers and car parks.
They are not merely warehouses for hay and animals; they are part of the fabric that makes up life on the farm. They are havens for school children who come to play and do chores in the early morning and late afternoon, and they bring families together in the best possible way, working, teaching, laughing and loving.
Duvet squares are also symbols of safety and warmth, reminders of the loving hands that kept their children warm on cold winter nights before central heat made the rooms less freezing.
By drawing attention to barns with the quilt squares project, it is hoped that more of them will be saved for future generations.
Volunteers to move the project forward are always needed. If you would like to help paint the squares or install them, please contact alabamabarnquilttrail.org
All materials will be provided.
Information about the Alabama Barn Quilt Trail on their website. The Alabama Barn Quilt Trail is an agricultural tourism project designed to promote travel and community pride by encouraging the public to explore our historic roads, farms, businesses and towns. Barn Quilts are part of what has become known as “The American Quilt Trail Movement” with colorful quilt squares painted on barns and buildings across North America. It is one of the fastest growing popular public art movements in the United States. Tourists come to experience the quilt squares on thousands of barns and buildings dotted along driving trails across the country.
This public art project assists candidates wishing to be part of the Alabama Barn Quilt Trail by erecting traditional hand-painted barn quilt designs mounted on barns and buildings throughout Alabama. The Alabama Barn Quilt Trail is promoted through its website, social media, and other forms of media and is enthusiastically supported by community organizations including the Alabama State Council on the Arts, the Alabama Farmers Federation, and others.
Benefits to our community and its small businesses include:
• Provide an economic benefit from tourism for businesses and farms on the Quilt Trail
• Promote the preservation of our historic barns
• Honor the agricultural roots of the state of Alabama
• Create public art and pay homage to the unique history of fine American quilts
We would like to thank the Alabama State Council on the Arts, ALFA, and the Alabama Farmers Federation for their generous support!