Grundy County Development Alliance

BARN QUILTS

Red barn with quilt on it.

Iowa's Original Barn Quilt Project

The Barn Quilts of Grundy County, a unique form of public art, is based on a project begun in Adams County, Ohio, in 2001.  The Barn Quilt concept was brought to Grundy County, Iowa in the fall of 2003 as a way to bring visitors off of newly completed Highway 20 and back into the heart of Grundy County.  Designed to highlight the rural, agricultural heritage of Grundy County, as well as the important folk art of quilting, the Barn Quilt Loop features large patchwork quilt blocks that have been painted onto the sides of barns and other farm buildings in the area.  These designs range in size from 8'x8' to 12'x12' and are painted either directly onto the sides of the buildings, or onto a plywood frame and mounted to the side of the structure.  

As you travel along the 64-mile Barn Quilt Loop, you will be delighted by more than two-dozen colorful quilt patterns that are spread across the towns of Wellsburg, Conrad, Beaman, Grundy Center, Morrison, Reinbeck and Dike.  Over the past few years, the Barn Quilt of Grundy County has grown into a unique attraction that has drawn visitors from all over the country to see the quilt blocks, shop in the county's many specialty and gift shops, enjoy a meal at one of several locally-owned restaurants, and just generally have a good time here in Grundy County, home of the Original Iowa Barn Quilts.

Contact us at:

Barn Quilts of Grundy County
P.O. Box 85, 705 F Avenue
Grundy Center, IA 50638
319-825-3606

Mission Statement 

The mission of the Barn Quilts of Grundy County is to promote and celebrate the unique agricultural experience of Grundy County through the visual combination of barns, which were vital to the economic well-being of the rural community, and the comfort of handmade quilts that provided warmth, beauty, and an outlet for individual artistic expression.

Project Objectives 

Agri-Tourism: This project provides us with opportunities to showcase the various aspects of agricultural production and businesses. Our goal is to provide resources to enable visitors to enjoy hands-on experiences and educational opportunities regarding Iowa farm history.

Folk Art of the Americana Quilt: This project allows for the promotion of the necessity and uniqueness of quilts in rural Iowa, and provides a way to preserve their place in Grundy County history. Our intention is to illustrate the symbolism and heritage behind the quilt blocks and patterns that tied communities together and provided a socialization outlet for Midwestern women.

Agricultural Architecture: The Barn Quilt Project allows us to illuminate the unique barn architecture that defined Iowa's diverse ethnic groups through building styles, materials, and work function. Built in different time periods and for different purposes, these buildings provide the perfect opportunity for visitors to learn about the diverse aspects of agricultural production and the different types of buildings that are needed to fulfill each of these functions.

Cultural Identity: It is necessary to conserve the rich heritage of the Ostfriesen settlers who immigrated from Northern Germany and the Netherlands border in search of available farmland. These early settlers transformed Grundy County land that had been rejected by others, and, through their knowledge and skills, drained the land and cultivated it into the richest farmland in the world. The proposed Grundy County welcome center, to be built at the junction of Highways 20 and 14, will honor these settlers with a four-story German windmill and heritage center.

Economic Development: We would like to develop support incentives, such as promotions, marketing, and grant writing, for local businesses and farmers who want to link their new or existing small businesses to the Barn Quilts of Grundy County. The Grundy County Development Alliance will work to develop classes and workshops dealing with leadership, entrepreneurship, and other relevant topics that will be made available to those living in and around the county.

Community Sustainability: Our intention is to reroute tourist traffic off of newly constructed Highway 20 to the established retail and commercial ventures already existing in Grundy County. The Barn Quilt project will provide a climate favorable for local entrepreneurs to develop and initiate products that service the influx of new tourism in the county. Proceeds from the project will be funneled into two Grundy County campaigns that assist local, low-income families - Neighbors Helping Neighbors and Operation Recharge - thereby fostering community betterment on numerous levels.

PLAY

This photo is of the "Churn Dash" quilt design on Karen and Marlyn Mennenga's Gothic brick barn, which is part of a new redwork kit by historic needlework designer The Posy Collection. The Mennenga's barn is also featured in an award-winning book "Barn Quilts and the American Quilt Trail Movement" by Suzi Parron and Donna Sue Groves.