Quilt trail warms up Monroe County barns

News-DemocratNovember 17, 2013 

When Lillian Heberer died at 101, granddaughter Kathi Weilbacher inherited one of her colorful handmade quilts.

Kathi promptly displayed it in her historic Waterloo home, which she and husband Ed operate as Senator Rickert Residence Bed and Breakfast.

"I put it over the bannister on the second floor, so I can see it every time I go up and down," she said.

Then the Weilbachers went a step further to honor Lillian, who had helped form the Happy Quilters in Mascoutah.

They hired Action Graphics to pattern a giant metal plaque off one of the quilt squares and hung it on their 19th-century carriage shed.

"Part of the reason is to draw attention to the historical structure," said Kathi, 59.

The plaque is known as a "barn quilt" and it's part of the Monroe County Barn Quilt Trail, launched earlier this year.

So far, five property owners have had barn quilts made out of wood or metal and displayed them on historical barns and other outbuildings.

The idea is to promote tourism and historic preservation by inviting people to drive around and look at them.

"Forty-four states have barn quilt trails," said Sue Hezel, a member of the Monroe County Barn Quilt Trail Committee and owner of Pen2Paper Art Studio in Columbia. "Some states have barn quilt trails that go county to county across the state. A lot of them have maps, and one even has a CD tour."

Sue made the first Monroe County barn quilt in February for Dale and Kay Haudrich, who live on a farm in rural Hecker. They had read about barn quilts in a magazine and admired them on motorcycle trips.

The design was created by Dale's sister, Janice Toenges, who is a quilter. She started with a Family Circle pattern to represent their close family and used farm colors such as green, blue and yellow.

"We put a sunflower in the middle of it because we used to grow sunflowers," said Kay, 57.

The Haudriches hung the 6-by-6-foot barn quilt on a barn that Dale's grandfather built for his cows in 1930.

The couple hired Sue to make a second barn quilt for Dale's uncle's farm, which the Haudriches now own on the other side of Hecker. They enlisted the help of cousin Joyce Krysnoski.

"Her parents (the late Elmer and Celeste Kabureck) both drove school buses, so she came up with a design that has a schoolhouse in the middle," Kay said. "Then she put A-B-C blocks on the top and 1-2-3 on the bottom."

Another barn quilt hangs on a Columbia barn owned by Dylane and Julie Doerr. It's patterned after a quilt top hand-stitched by Julie's mother.

Dylane put an image of his 1931 John Deere G.P. tractor in the center and added a border with animals and produce.

The fifth barn quilt is a half-mile outside the Monroe County line in New Athens. It's on a barn owned by John and Vickie Kaiser, whose farm has been in the family since 1863.

"The barn quilt boasts a beautiful International Harvester-inspired barn quilt that Vickie designed and painted," according to the description.

The Monroe County Barn Quilt Trail Committee hopes to have 50 barn quilts hanging by 2016 so they can be part of the county's 200th anniversary celebration.

Property owners must pay for their own barn quilts and hang them on structures 50 years or older. They're encouraged to come up with designs that help tell the stories of their families or properties.

"They must commit to maintain (the barn quilts) for 10 years," Sue said. "We didn't want people to make them out of cardboard and have them start looking terrible after we put them on the map."

For more information on the trail, visit its Facebook page or pen2paper.org or contact Sue Hezel at pen2paper@htc.net or 618-340-3490.

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