A Barn Quilt is an 8 foot by 8 foot wooden block, designed with a colorful quilt pattern, and hand painted using durable exterior paint for year-round display. The quilt blocks are mounted on historic barns and corn cribs throughout Kankakee County. Like a traditional fabric quilt, each Barn Quilt shares a unique story of growth, celebration, toil, and tradition. These colorful patterns and well-preserved homesteads invite visitors to venture off the beaten path and explore Kankakee County's scenic countryside.
The idea for barn quilts originally came from Adams County, Ohio in 2001, as a way to pull travelers away from busy four-lane highways to less traveled rural areas. Local Ohio artists were encouraged to paint traditional squares on the barns, much like they were once painted with logos. In 2008, Kankakee County became the first in Illinois to host a county-wide barn quilt tour.
Tourists from Illinois, other states, and some from as far away as California have experienced the Barn Quilt Tour. The Tour has been featured in MaryJanesFarm Magazine, WGN News feature "Cruisin' Illinois", IMAGES MAgazine, The Herald's Country Market, FarmWeek, The Daily Journal and more.
THE HISTORY OF QUILTS
Quilts reflect social history, such as the Westward Expansion, pioneering on the plains, wars, political and religious campaigns, working women, interior design, and more. Signature and raffle quilts tell us about families, community organizations, and church groups.
Quilts hold a significant role in African American culture and textile history. In the 1700's and 1800's, coded messages in quilts led the slaves to safe harbors and escapes through the Underground Railroad. African American quilts vary in style from traditional Anglo quilt patterns to more utilitarian quilts constructed from scrap fabrics for warmth.