Harrison County Quilt Barn Project
Harrison County has opted to make its 2005 Make a Difference Day project revolve around the "Quilt Barn" concept which has been carried out in other Appalachian areas.
The effort entails installing eight-foot square painted replicas of quilt squares on barns throughout the county. The barns will be promoted as a "drive it yourself" tour of Harrison County. They also will serve as a constant reminder of our pioneer and agricultural heritage.
The idea was born when Donna Sue Groves, a Field Representative with the Ohio Arts Council, adorned a barn on her farm in Adams County, Ohio with a quilt square from one of her mother's quilts. The idea grew to include 20 "Quilt Barns" throughout Adams County.
Soon thereafter the idea caught on, and since then Monroe County, Ohio has created a Quilt Barn project. Other counties throughout Appalachian Ohio have produced a sampling as well. Similar projects have been undertaken in Iowa, Tennessee, and Kentucky. It is Ms. Groves' hope that ultimately the 13 states of the Appalachian region will be traversed by a "Clothesline of Quilts" linking the shared heritage of the entire region.
The concept came to life in Harrison County during discussions between Ms. Groves and representatives of the county at a meeting in the spring of 2005. The plans call for an initial installation of 15 quilts; one in each of the county's townships. All of the quilts used as "models" for the project are owned by residents of the county and were submitted for consideration in June 2005.
The project has become a real community effort, bringing people together from throughout the county. Twenty-eight quilts were submitted for consideration in the initial phase of the project. The effort is coordinated by the Puskarich Public Library, the OSU Extension Office, and the Harrison County Community Improvement Corporation. The Harrison County Commissioners are involved in the project and have applied for grant funding in support of the effort. The Harrison County Engineer's office is coordinating the installation. The paintings are mounted to wooden frames, which are affixed to the barns. The frames were constructed by students in the Industrial Arts Program at Harrison Central High School. Two of the paintings were done by students in the Arts program at Harrison Central High School, and three were painted by 4-H clubs from the county. The balance were painted by volunteers from Harrison County.
The Harrison County Election Board became involved during the Harrison County Fair in July 2005. The Election Board had the opportunity to hold a mock election as a part of demonstrating newly acquired electronic voting machines that are to be put into service for the November 2005 election. The twenty-eight quilts that had been submitted for consideration were photographed and downloaded to the database of the election machines. Fairgoers were given the opportunity to vote for their favorite quilt. The winner was a quilt in the Dahlia pattern submitted by county resident Barbara Besozzi. The quilt was sewn by her grandmother, Mary Henderson. The quilt square is located on a barn on the homestead where it was sewn.
The first quilt was installed on August 16, 2005. The next eight quilts were installed as a part of Make A Difference Day Ohio, 2005.
Funds for the project are being raised through contributions from individuals, businesses, and civic groups. Grant funds are being sought as opportunities are identified.
The Harrison County Commissioners received a Make a Difference Day grant from the Governor's Office of Appalachia and Ohio's Appalachia Country, which covered one half of the cost of installation of eight quilts. Make A Difference Day Ohio was held on October 22, 2005. The state program is co-chaired by Ohio's First Lady Hope Taft and OSU Football Coach Jim Tressel. This year's grant program supported projects that established public art, such as the Quilt Barn project.
Examples of Quilt Barn projects in other locales can be found at: