August 24, 2008

Five more county barns get quilted

The first half of a barn quilt goes up

Under the bluest of skies Sunday, Racine County's Quilts on Barns project took a colorful leap forward.

Five more barns were hung with "quilts," bringing the total now completed to eight -- more than half of this year's projected total.

The 100-year-old red barns -- some of them still home to livestock -- received makeovers Sunday in a five-hour marathon made possible by the loan of an hydraulic lift by JM Electrical and teamwork by Jim Limburg and Jan Rowland from Johnson and Son Roofing, assisted by Al Barry and a crew pulled together by Kathi Wilson's project.

Kathi Wilson gives ownership certificate to Mike Straszewski
for Square in a Square, painted by Cops 'n Kids;
sponsored by Giving withJoy!

The first barn to receive a quilt Sunday morning belongs to Mike and Julie Straszewski. Located at 5915 Seven Mile Road, it is exactly 100 years old this year, and was originally a dairy barn, with 20 stanchions, serving a 250-acre farm. It soaked up 80 gallons of red paint just a year ago, but the 8-ft. by 8-ft. Square on Square "quilt" it received Sunday brightened it considerably.

Photographer Nicholas Ravnikar documents Churndash,
painted by the Lighthouse Quilt Guild;
sponsored by Klema Feeds

The second barn, built in the 1920s and only a mile and a half down the road, belongs to Roger and Sue Hays, at 8140 Foley Road. Horses still reside there, oblivious to the Churndash quilt visible from the road.

5-year-old Annie Comeau looks on as Dad Steve
stands under Corn and Beans, painted by the
Racine Arts Council; sponsored by Rustoleum

Sunday's third barn is another working barn, housing eight horses belonging to Sue Jensen, located at 6123 Highway 38 in Franksville. It received a Corn and Beans quilt, although there was nothing corns or beans-ish about the quilt's red, blue and black colors. "Most quilters who do it, use yellow and green," Wilson said, "but we preferred other colors."

Kathi Wilson and Jim Rowland take high view of Black-Eyed Susan,
painted by Monument Square Art Fair Board;
sponsored by Johnson and Son Roofing

The fourth barn hung on Sunday was the most difficult, because of the decision to place the quilt at its highest point, near the top of what essentially is a three-story building. The barn, belonging to Sara Neubauer and her family (which includes son Jeff and his wife, Judge Lisa), is located at 5553 Short Road. It, too, is a working horse barn, with six currently in residence, according to Erin Hopkins, farm manager. "It's a beautiful farm, and it would be a shame not to have horses here," she says. Well, now it's more beautiful, boasting a Black-Eyed Susan quilt facing the highway; the quilt covering what used to be the upper hayloft's door.

Depending on how one looks at the facts, this was either the oldest barn hung with a quilt Sunday, or the youngest. The barn was originally built in 1862 -- but it burned down to the foundation in 1991, and was meticulously rebuilt to the same specifications on the same site. So take your pick: it's either 146 years old or 17 years young.

Jim Limburg attaches Mariner's Compass,
painted by the Prairie School;
sponsored by Lighthouse Quilt Guild

The last barn Sunday was of indeterminate age. Owner Jerry Wishau admitted to being in his 70s, and knows his barn was built before he was born. Beyond that -- who knows? Call it 100, more or less. Now used just for storage, it received a colorful Mariner's Compass quilt, appropriate to the barn's location at 4164 Lighthouse Drive, right across the street from Lake Michigan -- probably the easternmost barn in Racine County.

Wishau was the first barn owner approached by Wilson and Levine -- "on a grey, grey February day," Levine recalls. "He said he always wanted to do something to dress up his barn. And now, here it is."

Each of the barn owners received a certificate of ownership of the "quilt," signed by Lorna Henning of the Racine Arts Council and Bill McReynolds, Racine County Executive. The presentations were made by Wilson and Lavine.

Six of the next seven quilts are painted, and will go up as crew and equipment are available.

Earlier barn quiltings are HERE and HERE.


  1. What a pleasure to view the photos of the beautiful "Quilts on Barns" and read the very informative article (plus previous ones)! As a member of the Rainbow Quilters Guild and one of the painters, I anxiously await the hanging of our "Indian Crossing" block on a chosen barn in Wind Lake. This truly will be a plus for Racine County tourism and I hope the interest and enthusiam continues. A special thanks to the many, many supporters of this creative, history project. Hope all receive recognition for a job well done! Looking forward to the Quilt Road Rally in October!

  2. A big THANK YOU to Kathi Wilson for following through on her inspirational idea, those who joined in this project, and the Racine Post for publishing the wonderful, informative articles and awesome pictures of the Racine County "Quilts on Barns"!!