Crazy Quilt, Double Wedding Ring, Rocky Mountain Road, Grandmother’s Flower Garden, Carolina Mystery, Churn Dasher, President’s Wreath — the pattern names of quilts are just as creative as their makers. Visitors who travel the Upstate Heritage Quilt Trail in South Carolina will find these quilt patterns and many more painted on wooden blocks and displayed on homes, arts centers, businesses, schools and historic or public buildings. Each painted quilt panel is a copy of an existing quilt that usually has some historical connection with the sponsoring family or organization.
In September, the 100th quilt block was mounted on the City of Westminster’s Municipal Building. Essie Jane Spencer Smith of the Madison (Old Liberty Baptist Church) Community of Oconee County made the original quilt sometime before August 1945 as a wedding present to her son, Spencer and his wife, Lelline Smith. Donna J. Smith Campbell, Essie Smith’s granddaughter, sponsored this addition to the trail.
The quilt trail concept was born in Adams County, Ohio in 2001, when Donna Sue Groves, a field representative with the Ohio Arts Council, decorated her family’s barn with a quilt square pattern from one of her mother’s quilts. Today, more than 4,000 quilt blocks can be found in 43 states.
In 2009, Oconee County became the first in South Carolina to embrace the quilt trail concept. The first quilt square was mounted on the Oconee Heritage Center in Walhalla. Today, the Upstate Heritage Quilt Trail includes Anderson and Pickens counties and is a collaborative effort by organizations, businesses and individuals who want to preserve the area’s heritage and promote the Upstate.
Before setting out on the actual trail, visit the Upstate Quilt Trail website to view quilt blocks, learn about their history and find their locations.
Check out this article in Sandlapper Magazine for more insight into how group leader Martha Fife and a band of volunteers produce and manage the installation of quilt blocks.