Hart County Quilt Trail
By Lauren Peeples The
[added photos by Joann Gordon]
Whether you are a history buff or just enjoy learning about the heritage
and culture of a small-town community, Hart County has just the trail to take
and a map to get you there. The Hart County Quilt Trail is closing in on its
second year and expansion of the trail continues.
“Every community, like every person, has things that make them unique.
This is one way to emphasize our historic and cultural uniqueness and to
explore our community genealogy,” said Quilt Trail coordinator and committee
chairman Mike Gordon.
The goal of the Hart County Quilt Trail is to promote a variety of local historic
homes, buildings, cemeteries, farms, barns, churches, points of interest and
cultural treasures in the community in a unique way, as well as showcase public
Local residents and visitors can follow the trail of colorful, hand-painted wooden
quilt blocks throughout Hartwell and Hart County to find the places that make the
area unique due to its historic and cultural significance.
Quilt trails are a form of arts-related tourism and creative place-making
that began in the Midwest and Appalachian regions. Many of those trails display
quilt blocks on large barns, which are very common due to the climate of those
parts of the country. In South Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee, quilt trails include
blocks in a wide variety of locations, including barns.
“Our South Carolina neighbors around Lake Hartwell have the Upstate Heritage Quilt
Trail, which includes over 100 blocks in Anderson, Oconee and PickensCounties,” said Gordon. “Franklin and Elbert counties are also in the process of developing quilt trails.
We will continue to work toward linking up with them and with the Appalachian Quilt Trail.”
All quilt blocks will be GPS-located and identified in future Quilt Trail brochures and CDs,
along with a history of each quilt block location. Historical information and addresses are
currently provided for each block on the Hart County Quilt Trail web site and Facebook page.
“Quilt trails provide excellent tourism opportunities for history buffs, cultural and genealogy
fans, and folks just looking for a reason to spend an interesting weekend,” said Gordon.
“Many such folks, including quilters’ guilds, take tour bus excursions or form caravans
in vehicles lasting as long as a week to find and explore places like our community.
We look forward to welcoming them to Hartwell and Hart County."
Law Firm, Market 50 and Shoppe on the Square, farms, historic churches, and points of interest such as Cateechee Golf Club. Sponsors and businesses who support the quilt trail with a donation of $50 or more receive a special quilt block sign, a “friendship star,” to display.
Quilt blocks are painted on weather resistant wood and are installed by committee members
and volunteers. Painting is a multi-step process to ensure the colors are bold and the designs are crisp.
The majority of the blocks are two-by two, which are mounted on metal realty style frames that can easily be moved or removed for mowing. Quilt block signs are also mounted on walls or barns using specially-designed frames. Four-by-four signs, when available, are mounted on weather-treated
Hart County residents Bill and Cheri Griggs displayed a block, titled “Job’s Tears” at their home, located on Athens Street. “We had seen the ones in Lavonia and when Mike Gordon explained the hope was to connect the Quilt Trail from state to state, we loved it. Both Bill and I have quilts made lovingly by our grandmothers and marvel at the skill needed and the time commitment,”
said Cheri. “I chose “Job’s Tears” because we wanted a red, white and blue theme and because many times Bill calls having an old house much like Job with many trials every day.
We wanted to coordinate with our neighbors color-wise, but to be different.”
McConnell deems Hart County as “blessed” with many individuals and groups who are interested in preserving and sharing the community’s history, as well as the agricultural heritage.
“We also have a thriving arts scene that fosters a lot of creative energy and happenings. The Quilt Trail really ties those strengths together as a public art project that spotlights our heritage and what makes Hart County distinctive,” said McConnell.
Planning for the Hart County Quilt Hart County Quilt Trail began in early 2012, when a committee was formed to discuss the idea
of creating a trail. Hart County Quilt Trail partnering organizations include local quilt guild Quilters From the Hart, Annie’s Pretty Pieces Quilt Shop, Lewis Lumber, Home Depot, Hart County Archway
Partnership, Hart Regional Arts Center, Hartwell Downtown Development Authority (DDA), the Hart County Historical Society,the Hartwell Historic Preservation Commission and the Hart County
Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors.
After several months of brainstorming and planning, the quilt trail committee applied for and received an Operation Roundup grant from the Hart EMC Foundation to kick-start the project. Grant funds were used to purchase supplies for the first 20 quilt block signs as well as develop a web site to
promote the Quilt Trail.
The Madora Garden Club and John Benson Chapter of DAR stepped forward to sponsor the first quilt block at the Cherokee Center of the World on U.S. Hwy 29. The site features a granite memorial installed by DAR in 1923 and landscaping maintained by the Madora Garden Club.
“Our quilt block designs are traditional designs and have special meanings that are recognizable to quilters and those in the know,” said Hart County Archway Partnership director Ilka McConnell.
“Participating sites select the quilt design and colors for their block, so many of the quilt blocks are customized for their location. For example, the traditional quilt block design selected for the Cherokee Center of the World was “Indian Trails,” appropriate because the site was a historic assembly ground and trail junction of the Cherokee who lived in this area.”
Since the organization installed its first block at the Center of the World in April, more than 40 quilt blocks have been added to the quilt trail and continue to be added. Gordon said he enjoys the interaction with others who share an enthusiasm about Hartwell and its historic properties. “As we create more and more quilt blocks, our representations of public art and public pride will create more and more interest, and that will make us more interesting as a community,” said Gordon. “We will become a destination for tourists who enjoy historic places, who enjoy exploring cultural settings,
who enjoy an interesting weekend outing to someplace new. There is no secret to exporting the tax burden, that’s what tourism does for us. That is what our quilt trail will do for us.”
Locations hosting color quilt blocks include historic homes in downtown Hartwell on Benson and Athens Streets, downtown businesses such as Bailes- Cobb, Gordon
"It has been fascinating to learn about the historic homes in downtown Hartwell, as well as former and current residents. Learning a lot about traditional quilt block designs and all of the geometry and artistry that goes into it h as been fun. I have also enjoyed hearing some of the stories behind why participants chose a specific quilt block design for their property.”
Shirley Kowalski, who resides on Liberty Hill Road, selected the “Grandmother’s Puzzle,” because she is a grandmother. “I had seen these quilt blocks on barns up in the mountains and when I heard about the Hart County Quilt Trail, I wanted to be a part of it, but I wanted the block to be on my barn,” said Kowalski, who has been a quilter with Quilters from the Hart for 12 years. “The colors on the block are red, yellow and beige. My barn is a rusted, natural barn and I think it really goes well with the area.”
Kowalski had a block party open house when her quilt block was installed. She welcomed
members from Quilters from the Hart to take a group photograph with the block.
McConnell said the Quilt Trail is intended and expected to add another tourism attraction to Hart County. “It will draw visitors to our community and encourage them to explore, shop and stay overnight, with the benefit of ex-porting some of our tax base through tourism,” said McConnell. “It’s also been a neat community project with lots of participation, with the benefit of engaging neighbors
across the county in sharing the uniqueness of their homes, businesses, farms or properties with others.”
For information about the Hart County Quilt Trail, visit
www.QuiltTrailHartCoGa.com or follow updates
A mobile application for iPhone for the Hart County Quilt Trail is also currently in development. To participate in the quilt trail or to become a sponsor, call Mike Gordon