Barn Quilts of Carver County

A graphic shows some of the barn quilts that can be seen throughout the county, including 'Triple Tulips'.
A graphic shows some of the barn quilts that can be seen throughout the county, including ‘Triple Tulips.’

“Triple Tulips” salute resident’s Dutch ancestry

By Melissa Priebe
watertown.editor@ecm-inc.com

Artwork on a Carver County barn is featured in the newly released book “Following the Barn Quilt Trail,” by Suzi Parron, which highlights barn quilts from across the U.S.

The barn, which features a pattern titled “Triple Tulips,” is owned by Janet Fahey, who lives in Norwood Young America.

On a historic property just north of the Cologne, the tulips stand as a symbol of Fahey’s Dutch heritage. She can trace her family’s history back over 150 years, to when her family immigrated to the U.S. from The Netherlands in 1863. They came over from a small town of Echt in Holland, and made their way to Carver County.

Donna Sue Groves originally conceived the barn quilt trail concept in 2001. She worked with her Ohio community to create the first quilt trail to honor her mother, thus inspiring a movement. The movement came to Carver County in 2011, and now, thousands of barns across the United States feature quilt patterns.

“We spent two years traveling cross-country interviewing barn quilt owners,” Parron said. “The book takes the reader on that journey across rural America to visit the folks whose stories inspired me.”

In addition to being a work of art, each barn quilt tells a story unique to its owner or property. Fahey’s barn was built in 1961 with hardwoods from the property on which her ancestors previously worked.

“From a number of perspectives, it’s very exciting to be part of the project,” said Fahey, an artist who has been involved in the barn quilts of Carver County since the project’s inception. She is a member of the Carver County Arts Consortium, and she credits the success of the project to Project Director Naomi Russell, and Project Artist Suzanne Thiesfeld. After finishing her barn quilt, Fahey volunteered to help other families paint their barn quilts. “It’s really bringing art to our community, and it also is a great way to recognize our agricultural prominence in the county.”

Parron, who is a quilter and a folk art collector that travels across the country, featured the history of Fahey’s barn in her book, published by Swallow Press in April. In interviews for the book conducted in 2014, she studied the history behind the barn quilts and learned how the project began in Carver County.

“As a way to preserve our barn and to give a nod to our legacy, I thought this was a great opportunity,” said Fahey.

Fahey said the barn quilts are meant to be a permanent art installation. Displayed prominently on barns across the county, they are considered public art. To share the experience of the barn quilts with residents and visitors, Fahey gives barn quilt tours from May through November. Information about the tours can be found at www.barnquiltsofcarvercounty.com.

The “Triple Tulips” barn quilt design was also chosen to represent Minnesota in the new American Quilt Trail Redwork Kit by historic needlework designer The Posy Collection.

Barn quilts from 13 states were selected for the redwork mini-ornament kit, which features embroidery that uses red floss on muslin fabric. This historic needlework technique is known to be simple and fast to complete.

Posy Lough, owner of the Posy Collection, explained that barn quilts are colorful quilt patterns painted on panels and hung on barns or buildings that capture the spirit of American quilting and local heritage.

“We took some of the most iconic quilt squares and put them together in a kit for quilt lovers and stitchers to enjoy,” Lough said.

Other states with barn quilts featured in the redwork kit include California, Florida, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Virginia and Washington.

Lough and Parron worked together to choose the patterns and interpret them for the redwork design.

The Posy Collection, based in Round Rock, Texas, has been translating American history into needlework kits for more than two decades. Designs depict everything from presidential homes and historic sites to natural wonders and famous Americans.

For more information or to purchase a needlework kit, visit www.barnquiltinfo.com.

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