Butler/Grundy County Barn Quilt Project

Barn Quilt Project - A Highlight of Heritage

The Barn Quilts of Grundy County, a unique form of public art, is based on a project that started in Adams County, Ohio in 2001. The Barn Quilt concept was brought to Grundy County, Iowa in the fall of 2003 as a way to bring visitors off of the newly completed High way 20 and back into the heart of Grundy County.

A group of Butler County residents began meeting in 2006 to see if this was project that could be started there as well. With the help of Iowa State University Extension, the project gained momentum, with great interest from barn owners across the county.

Designed to highlight the rural, agricultural heritage of both counties as well as the important folk art of quilting, the Barn Quilt tours features large patchwork quilt blocks that have been painted onto the sides of barns and other farm buildings in the two counties. These designs range in size from 8’x8’ to 12’x12’ and are painted either directly onto the sides of the buildings or onto a plywood frame and mounted to the side of a structure.

In 2020, both individual barn quilt committees from Butler and Grundy Counties made the decision to come together as one committee to oversee both counties, under the umbrella of the Butler-Grundy Development Alliance. The goal is to ensure the long-term stability of the initiative in both counties, and to expand the marketing efforts.

As you travel along the self-guided tour, you will be delighted by dozens of colorful quilt patterns that are spread across rural areas and in many of our communities. As you would expect, you can also find several quilt shops to visit in our communities as well!

View the Barn Quilt Maps

Download a complete map of the Barn Quilt Loop, as we as a detailed list of where to find the quilts in each county.

The Barn Quilt's Project Objectives

Agri-Tourism

This project provides us with opportunities to showcase the various aspects of agricultural production and businesses. Our goal is to provide resources to enable visitors to enjoy hands-on experiences and educational opportunities regarding Iowa farm history.

Folk Art of the Americana Quilt

This project allows for the promotion of the necessity and uniqueness of quilts in rural Iowa and provides a way to preserve their place in Butler and Grundy County history. Our intention is to illustrate the symbolism and heritage behind the quilt blocks and patterns that tied communities together and provided a socialization outlet for Midwestern women.

Agricultural Architecture

The Barn Quilt Project allows us to illuminate the unique barn architecture that defined Iowa’s diverse ethnic groups through building styles, materials, and work function. Built in different time periods and for different purposes, these buildings provide the perfect opportunity for visitors to learn about the diverse aspects of agricultural production and the different types of buildings that are needed to fulfill each of these functions.

Cultural Identity

It is necessary to conserve the rich heritage of the Ostfriesen settlers who immigrated from Northern Germany and the Netherlands border in search of available farmland. These early settlers transformed Grundy County land that had been rejected by others, and through their knowledge and skills, drained the land and cultivated it into the richest farmland in the world. The Grundy County Welcome Center, located at the junction of Highways 20 and 14, honors these settlers with a large German windmill and heritage center.

Find More to Do in Butler and Grundy Counties

If you’re looking for activities beyond the Barn Quilt Project, visit our Attractions page!
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