Category Archives: For barn owners

Applications due Sept. 30

If you are considering a barn quilt for your property and want to have it listed as a Ashtabula County Barn Quilt Trail entity, you must submit your application to the committee by September 30, preferably sooner!

Your barn quilt also needs to be installed by that date so we can arrange to have photographs taken and a webpage created to honor your entry. There is no charge to apply or be on the trail. Donations are always accepted, of course.

Get started on your barn quilting adventure by visiting the downloads page, where you can find our standards and application forms in pdf format.

Please note that by agreeing to have your quilt on the trail, it will be placed on the following year’s Visitor’s Guide map. This is a pull-out map of the county that guides visitors to wineries, covered bridges and barn quilts. A four-month lead time is required to produce the guide and map, so we must insist your completed application be returned to the committee by Sept. 30.

The Moses barn

The Ohio Farmer magazine of May 18, 1907, printed a story about what was then the largest barn in Ashtabula County, built on the farm of William N. Moses of Dorset. If any reader knows what became of this barn, please contact the steering committee.
The following is what Mr. Moses wrote about his barn.

Last fall I finished building a new barn which has attracted a great deal of attention. It as built differently from any barn in the county and perhaps in the state. It is 40 x 60 ft., 9-ft. basement, 18 ft. to plate, and 23 ft. from the top of plate to peak, making the total height 50 ft. It is 41 ft. from hay floor to peak. The barn is only 40 ft. wide but it takes an 18 and a 16 ft. rafter to reach one side of the curb roof. The rafters are the same length except the lower ones have 2 ft. projections. The lower pitch of roof is 2/3, and the upper is between 1/3 and 1/2. Thus, it will be seen why the barn holds so much above the plate.

The truss is the part that is different from other barns. The bottom of truss is only between 3 and 4 ft. wide, so is not out in the way. The whole barn is open, open from peak to floor and from side to side with the exception of a truss 3 or 4 ft. wide and about 4 in. thick. The steel hay track is fastened on collar beams 2×5 spiked to each pair of rafters to about 3 ft. from peak, so the hay falls about 38 ft. to floor.

My floor is matched maple. The barn is all floored except 1/2 of driveways 14×20. I drive in on a level and let the hay fork take the hay up, as it is better than pulling a load up a hill to top of basement. This is where you gain by building on level ground. After haying, I put temporary joists in and rough boards, and run straw in so I have no waste room. The large doors are 14 ft. high so I can run straw carrier on floor easily.

There is a granary in one corner, up above. 14 1/2 x 17 ft., grain spouted below. There are 33 windows and two shutters. The eight transom windows and 15 basement windows are hung so as to swing open for ventilation. The siding is No. 1 yellow pine, matched, and planed on both sides. The roof is red cedar shingles. I made a mistake in not using slate, as I paid $3.60 for shingles and the work of laying them would bring it up to about the price of slate.

The basement is cement under all stock. I also made the bottom of manger in front of cattle rounding so I can pump water in and water them in bad weather. When they are through drinking, I pull out the plug and the water runs through a tile under the wall. The wall is stone up to the top of ground then two rows of barn tile. They are larger than house tile, and have a partition in center.

My fed boxes for cattle are made on side of manger. The manger is hung on iron pins set in 4×4 in. posts and swings up over to feed grain and swings back to form side of manger. No chickens to roost on our feed boxes this way. This barn was built by S. Mellinger of Ashtabula County, who has built several barns after the Shawver plan, and he says it is far ahead of any other truss he ever built.

The estimated cost of the barn, including labor of myself and team, board, etc., was $3,300.00. I also wired the barn after the cage plan for lightning protection, using 70 rods of twisted wire the size of barbed wire, but without the barbs. I used 1/2-in. iron rods, 6 ft. long, for ground rods, 12 in number: also 1/2 in. rods for points, sharpened at the blacksmith shop, four in number. The wire is stapled to the building, no glass being used.

Painting classes offered

Painting a barn quilt that is 8-by-8 feet can be intimidating, but it need not be. Whether your quilt is 2 feet wide or 8 feet wide, the principles are the same. So why not start out with a small quilt and work up to the big one?

Chris Angerman, a co-founder of the Ashtabula County Barn Quilts Trail, holds painting classes at the Conneaut Community Center for the Arts. These classes will start in April and go through September. The student completes a 2-by-2-foot barn quilt during the class, which is for two days, two hours each day.

The class fee INCLUDES the 2-by-2-foot MDO board already primed, plus all the paint, brushes, tape and other necessities needed to produce a beautiful quilt for your home. Chances are, as you have driven around the county, you’ve seen some of these on houses. Most likely they are the homes of the students who have learned under Chris Angerman at the center.

These quilts are not eligible for inclusion on the trail, but many of our barn quilters have started with a small one like this before moving up to the exterior, larger sizes.

Both day and evening classes are offered for your convenience.

To register, call the community center 593-5888, or you can send an email.

Artistic Woodworks

jeffThe Ashtabula Wave, an online newsletter, has a feature story about Jeff Scribben and his Artistic Woodworks business.

Jeff serves as technical adviser to the Steering Committee and has painted at least 10 of the quilts on the trail. His craftsmanship, hard work and willingness to take on some tough tasks, including hanging our first 8×8 foot quilt, have been a huge blessing to our steering committee.

Jeff and his wife, Rachel, have four children. They volunteer throughout the community in a number of ministries and nonprofits that are making a difference in Ashtabula County. He recently took the huge step of going into business full time, that is whatever time is left over from his volunteering work and part-time job with Habitat for Humanity.

Buying a barn quilt

You don’t have to build and paint your own barn quilt, although we highly recommend it because the activity can create family memories and add another layer to your story.

That said, there are numerous sources for ready-to-hang barn quilts. For those who want a customized barn quilt — a specific pattern or color scheme — Artistic Woodworks (855-2459) offers a complete barn quilt service, from design to installation. This cottage industry is based in Ashtabula County and its owners, Jeff and Rachel Scribben, serve as technical advisers to the steering committee.

Ash/Craft Industries in Kingsville Township offers ready-made quilts in their garden shop. Please note that in order to be on the trail, your barn must have a barn quilt of at least 4×4 feet.

You may find builders advertising barn quilts on Etsy, eBay or Craigslist. Please make sure that, if you want your barn and quilt to be on the trail, you confirm that the quilt you are buying meets our standards for priming, materials and paint. The steering committee reserves the right to reject any quilts that do not meet those standards.

Ready-made quilts are typically less expensive than customized products, and there is a reason for that. Consider the extra work that goes into making a custom quilt. The artist first meets with the client to discuss the barn’s story, nail down a pattern and select the color scheme. Rarely are all the colors in his or her stock of high-quality exterior paint, so a trip to the paint store and tinting of one more cans of paint are required. This paint is expensive, typically $15 to $20 per quart.

There will likely be phone calls and visits during the painting stage as the artist keeps the client informed of the progress. And delivery of the barn quilt, even installation, may be offered as part of the sale price.

With ready-made or stock barn quilts, the artist reduces his or her investment in time and materials. This often results in a reduction in price of 25 percent or more.

A barn quilt, like any piece of art, is an investment. Having a custom quilt with a unique color scheme that tells a story specific to the barn is akin to buying an “original” piece of art. Purchasing something that is ready made is like buying a print of the original.

Every consumer’s sense of value is different; to some, the 25 percent premium for a custom quilt is a bargain. For others, it is a deal breaker. That’s a gray area the the steering committee cannot address. However, because sustainability is essential with any tourism attraction, we will make certain each barn quilt meets our criteria for inclusion. Beyond that, the decision is yours.

How did barn quilt trails get started?

Here is an excellent, short history of the barn quilt concept, as related by Donna Sue Groves in an interview and posted on the Quilt Alliance blog. The Appalachian roots are interesting. Many of Ashtabula County’s residents trace their families back to Appalachia and the great migration that occurred from the Southern Highlands to northern cities in the 1940 and 1950s. Further, Ashtabula County is part of the Appalachian Regional Commission; essentially, in economic terms, we are Appalachian, according to Congress. We have many reasons to have a barn quilt trail here …


“The quilt barn project is a project, or it was an idea, a concept, that probably was birthed about the same time that I watched my grandmother’s quilt and when we would go visit them in the Roane County, West Virginia. During road trips with Mother and Dad, my mother created a car game to keep my brother and I quiet. Since we grew up in West Virginia you can’t play the typical license plate car game when you’re traveling on the back roads of West Virginia, because all you saw was West Virginia license plates. So Mother created a car game and we counted barns. If it was a certain kind of barn, you got two points; if it was another kind of barn, you got three points; if it had outdoor advertising on it, you got a bonus of ten points if you could read it. Barns like “Chew Mail Pouch” or “See Rock City” or “RC Cola,” all kinds of outdoor advertisements. Red barns were higher points. The game led to discussions and questions about the barns, “Were they an English barn, were they Welsh, German and what the purpose of the barns was?” It became a history and cultural opportunity for my mother to engage my brother and I, and my father too, in conversational teaching moments, whether I knew it or not, and they were exciting. I looked forward to seeing barns. And then as a teenager, we traveled through Pennsylvania, where I was first introduced to the German, Pennsylvania Dutch barns with their hex signs which had the most colorful, wonderful, geometric designs on them, and they were worth fifty points in our car game and that was pretty exciting.

So, as you can see, I was imprinted with the love of barns, as I said, and then imprinted early with quilting and the designs. Both were a major part of my childhood and represented my culture and heritage and my love of home and family. In 1968 we moved away from West Virginia, and moved to the flatland of Ohio, and then eventually the path took my mother and me to southern Ohio, to Adams County where we bought a farm that had a barn on it. So, I finally had a barn that actually belonged to us. One day as mother and I stood looking at our barn in 1989, it was a tobacco barn, and I, not knowing that people actually grew tobacco and dried it in barns was surprised to see how it differed from the barns of my childhood. I didn’t understand about tobacco barns because we didn’t see those in West Virginia or in our travels. I said to Mother, ‘This is the ugliest looking barn I’ve ever seen in my life! It needs some color, and I think I’ll paint you a quilt square on it someday.’ Well, that promise or that outburst became a continuous promise from 1989 through the years, until the year 2000. Friends of mine, Pete Whan with the Nature Conservancy and Elaine Collins, the Economic Development Director in Adams County approached me and said, ‘Donna, your mom’s getting older, and that’s really a great idea, you wanting to create a quilt square for her and paint it on the barn. Pete and I will volunteer to help you.’ And I said, ‘Great. I think that if we’re going to do one, we should consider doing a bunch of quilt squares, because I think we can create a driving trail and people will come to Adams County to drive a trail, to see our barns with quilt squares on them, and ultimately that will create economic opportunity. Our quilters can sell wall hangings and quilts based on these quilt squares, and our artists and photographers can make note cards, and we can have t-shirts, and our potters will make coffee mugs, and we can raise money which will help everybody locally.’ And they said, ‘Oh, how can we do that?’ And I said, ‘Well, we need to form a committee and create a plan of action.’

So we did, and our first committee meeting was in January of 2001, in Adams County. My mother was part of that committee. Several business owners, a couple of barn owners, someone from the Chamber of Commerce and the Travel and Tourism Bureau, there were about ten, twelve of us, sat down together and created this model on how we would create a driving trail. Our goal was to hang or to paint three quilt squares on barns in 2001. We applied to the Ohio Arts Council and received funding for our first three quilt squares, and someone on our committee, Judy Lewis who owns Lewis Mountain Herb Farm, volunteered that she wanted to have the first quilt square and she wanted it dedicated at her festival in October 2001. We all agreed that that would be fine. Mother had researched traditional old quilt square patterns, we tried to be very conscientious about copyright with the concern that we did not infringe on artists or designers of any quilt patterns. So Mother came up with about thirty-five squares, and we voted on twenty, the committee, that we wanted to do. The reason we chose twenty quilt squares to develop a quilt trail, a driving loop, was because mother said that twenty quilt squares make up an average size bed quilt. We felt that the trail needed a beginning or it might go on forever.

So the end of the beginning of the story, or the end of that story for the moment, is we hung our first quilt square October 2001, at the Lewis Mountain Herb Fair, with an attendance of about 10,000 to 15,000 people. Then the story was out. The press picked it up. An adjoining county, Brown County, Ohio, called and said, ‘We love it. How do we do it?’ Tennessee read an article in a local magazine. They called and wanted to know how to do the project. Iowa wanted to duplicate the project. I spoke at a conference in Nebraska. Pat Gorman from Iowa was there and heard me talk about the trail. When I got back home, Pat called me and said, ‘Donna Sue, Grundy County may not have all of the bridges as Madison County but we have the barns. How do we do the project?’ So Pat and I collaborated. I went out two or three different times to work with Grundy County and help them to get a good start. And the rest is history. Now we’re up to about twenty-two states, and twenty counties in Ohio. I’m very proud.

Want to learn more about Donna Sue Groves and barn quilt trails? Check out the trailer for the documentary Pieced Together, to be released in 2015. You can read more quilt stories on the Quilters’ S.O.S.- Save Our Stories page on the Quilt Alliance website.