Photo by Todd & Brad Reed Photography

Mason County Barn Quilt Trail

Many Homesteads Make Up the Barn Quilt Trail

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Mason County is home to dozens of barns, many of which have been in existence for a century or more. It was quite common for these barns to feature a variety of decorations, something that became a lost art in recent years. Now, as part of the Mason County Cultural Trail, a Barn Quilt Trail is taking shape.

Each quilt is actually an 8′ x 8′ plywood square in which the barn owner (or an artist of their choice) can paint a design. The barn owner is responsible for the cost of the squares, but is helping the community become a richer cultural area by displaying them.

Nova Motel
The Jam Farm

Recently, there has been quite a change to the landscape with the addition of the majestic wind turbines throughout Summit and Riverton townships. The Fall Color Tour is best enjoyed in October when the red, gold and orange leaves are at their peak.

Take a relaxing drive following the trail, bring your camera and a picnic lunch, and make a day of it. It’s an activity that’s family friendly and absolutely free.

These are the barn quilts approved by the Cultural Economic Development Task Force. Dial (231) 480-3084 and use the following extensions for an audio narrative:

Mariner's Compass — Stop #200

Dial (231) 480-3084 and use stop number 200 for an audio narrative. Also see locator number 200 on the printable map above. 

at the Mason County Fairgrounds West Harness Horse Barn

The quilt pattern titled Mariner’s Compass has the distinction of being Mason County’s first painted 8×8 barn quit square. Hanging on the west end of the harness horse barn, an estimated daily 24,000 east bound cars are treated to the colorful painting in hues of red, blue, yellow, white and green. An accomplished artist, Janice Shelley volunteered to paint the first barn quilt square. Her tools consisted of an old overhead projector, pencil, straightedge, a quality brush and “mint green frog tape.” A stepstool was used to reach the highest edges. Janice claims the secret to this form of art is simply straight lines!

Learn more about the Mariner’s Compass barn quilt here.

The Pine — Stop #201

Dial (231) 480-3084 and use stop number 201 for an audio narrative. Also see locator number 201 on the printable map above. 

This beautiful quilt square was painted by artist Deborah Chrystal. It is patterned after a quilt square design in the Mason County Historical Society’s collection, and heavily utilizes the white pine motif for which this historical site is named. Although there was an abundance of virgin hardwoods here when the first pioneers settled this County, it was the tall stately white pine that first grabbed the attention of lumber barons. The Pine quilt square is strategically mounted on the north end of the Jorissen Barn, facing the parking lot for maximum exposure. It was raised up onto the barn on September 19, 2014, the official launch day of the Mason County Barn Quilt trail.

Learn more about The Pine barn quilt here.

The Windmill — Stop #202

Dial (231) 480-3084 and use stop number 202 for an audio narrative. Also see locator number 202 on the printable map above. 

This family chose the Windmill Quilt Pattern as they live in the Lake Winds Energy Park and have wind turbines around their farm. The wind farm began operation in November 2012. It is interesting to recall that area farms that have the modern “windmills” once depended on much smaller and simpler windmills to pump the essential life nourishment of water. The windmill pattern consists of three windmills and our family thought that it was a good representation of our faith in the Trinity: God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. John and Darlene Fuhrman currently own this farm and engaged their youngest daughter Sylvia to paint the quilt square. Painting and crafts are two of her special interests.

Learn more about The Windmill barn quilt here.

The Carpenter's Wheel — Stop #203

Dial (231) 480-3084 and use stop number 203 for an audio narrative. Also see locator number 203 on the printable map above. 

This quilt pattern is the Carpenter’s Wheel and was chosen by Debra Weaver to memorialize her late husband Ace who was a master woodworker and made many beautiful pieces of furniture. He loved this area and dreamed of retiring here. Yet beyond its personal meaning this design has historical significance for it communicated a coded message for runaway slaves seeking freedom into northern states and Canada. To slaves, Jesus was the master carpenter and when they sang the old classic “Swing Low Sweet Chariot” slave owners assumed they were singing about going to the Promised Land but it was a coded message with directions to another promised land – freedom in Ohio and beyond. The artist who painted this quilt square is Debra’s niece Sylvia Fuhrman.

Learn more about The Carpenter’s Wheel barn quilt here.

Michigan Beauty — Stop #204

Dial (231) 480-3084 and use stop number 204 for an audio narrative. Also see locator number 204 on the printable map above. 

This quilt block the “Michigan Beauty” was a part of a quilt called the Loyal Union Sampler. Put together by many women as a way to cover their loved ones with a piece of home. Women expressed their feeling through quilts that were symbols of mourning used to bury soldiers, signals for the Underground Railroad and especially as a way to raise funds for the war effort. They could not vote or own property yet some very determined women disguised their gender and enlisted as soldiers. Sarah Edmonds from near Pontiac, Michigan was a notable example.

Learn more about Michigan Beauty barn quilt here.

The Carpenter's Wheel — Stop #205

Dial (231) 480-3084 and use stop number 205 for an audio narrative. Also see locator number 205 on the printable map above. 

This is the Springdale Morgan Horse Farm established in 1980. Richard and Susan Hays purchased the farm in 1978. Susan’s parents, Dalton and Elsbeth Holt love of horses inspired the development of this horse farm and they bought the farm’s first Registered Morgan horse in 1980. That horse set the foundation for this nationally recognized registered Morgan Horse Farm. Over the past decades, nearly 50 magnificent Morgan foals have been born on this farm. 

Learn more about The Carpenter’s Wheel barn quilt here.

The Lithuanian Quilt — Stop #206

Dial (231) 480-3084 and use stop number 206 for an audio narrative. Also see locator number 206 on the printable map above. 

This quilt square is a composite of the Lithuanian national colors and a well-known pattern of Lithuanian linen weaving, lilies and roses. Helen Budzinski’s daughter-in-law created the design and Shelly Bray painted the quilt square. It commemorates the heritage of the family in whose hands the farm has been since 1914, the Zigmont and Anna Baibak/Anthony and Helen Budzinski family. The family has celebrated it rich Lithuanian heritage in this location for 100 years.

Learn more about The Lithuanian Quilt barn quilt here.

Lonestar — Stop #207

Dial (231) 480-3084 and use stop number 207 for an audio narrative. Also see locator number 207 on the printable map above. 

Ron and Carla Iris chose the Lone Star quilt pattern with strong personal meaning for this artwork on their barn.  Ron is the artist. Carla and Ron imagined, created, altered and re-envisioned the design together. The colors of the star are those of a rainbow inspired by Genesis 9:13 of the Latin Old Testament that uses the Greek word “Iris” to indicate the “eye” or “rainbow” covenant in the sky. 

Learn more about the Lonestar Quilt barn quilt here.

The Farmer's Daughter— Stop #208

Dial (231) 480-3084 and use stop number 208 for an audio narrative. Also see locator number 208 on the printable map above. 

The Sterley barn is currently jointly owned by Jean and her daughter Shelly. The quilt square gracing this century-old barn is called the Farmer’s Daughter. The pattern was chosen as a tribute to Shelly’s father and Jean’s husband, lifelong farmer in Victory Township, the late Devere “Buck” Sterley. It was painted by Shelly, a third generation owner and her partner Michelle Henri.

Learn more about The Farmer’s Daughter barn quilt here.

Blazing Star— Stop #209

Dial (231) 480-3084 and use stop number 209 for an audio narrative. Also see locator number 209 on the printable map above. 

Created by artist Janice Shelly, the “Blazing Star” quilt square design is a tribute to homesteader Henry Shagwag, a member of the Ottawa tribe, the most prominent Native Americans in Mason County. This quilt square features the colors of the Ottawa Nation representing many things: the colors of the people of the world – yellow, black, red and white or the four points of a compass and more.  

Learn more about the Blazing Star barn quilt here.

Friendly Farm Animals and Silly Monsters— Stop #212

Dial (231) 480-3084 and use stop number 212 for an audio narrative. Also see locator number 212 on the printable map above. 

The barn quilt squares on the barn at Grandpa’s Farm exhibit were uniquely made for Sandcastles with kids in mind. Although they are not painted in a traditional barn quilt style, just like everything at Sandcastles, they are designed to engage children’s imaginations. Our first square entitled “Friendly Farm Animals” features portraits of nine different farm animals and is displayed on the south side of our barn. Their smiling, friendly faces are representative of all the animals featured in our farm exhibit. Our second square, “Silly Monsters,” is displayed on the north side of the barn. These imaginary creatures are also smiling and friendly, a fun twist for kids to observe as they take in the sights and sounds of Grandpas’ Farm.

Learn more about the Friendly Farm Animals and Silly Monsters barn quilt here.

For more information on the Mason County Barn Quilt Trail, please visit:

masoncountyculture.com/trails

  • Discover Mason County Cultural Trails

  • For more activities and attractions, click here.

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    Mason County Barn Quilt Trail

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