The town of Warrenton’s Quilters Lane Committee is working on one of its first installation pieces—a hanging of quilt blocks in honor of patterns traditionally used by communities of quilters in Warren County—and sponsorships for the blocks were sold out almost immediately.
Quilting has been a tradition that binds in this community for generations. The Quilters Lane Committee invites the community to celebrate with them the heritage of quilting in Warren County.
“If a community’s vitality is measured by the quality and beauty of its quilts, Warren County radiates energy,” said Jereann King Johnson, member of the Quilters Lane Committee and the Heritage Quilters. “Historically, quilts have played a significant role in the identity and strength of families and communities. Most would agree that quilts and quilting have the unique ability to bring people together to reflect upon and celebrate the goodness of life.”
The quilt blocks featured in this project represent traditional patterns used in various Warren County communities. The installation will take place along a brick wall in Quilters Square, an arts related park being developed at the corner of Front and West Market streets on Courthouse Square in downtown Warrenton.
The following patterns are included: Grandmother’s Fan, North Star, Carolina Lily, Cactus Star, Cog Wheel, Ohio Star, Courthouse Steps, Nine-Patch, Cherry Basket and Eight Point Star. Quilt blocks are 3-feet by 3-feet in size and will be hand painted by local artisans and designed to withstand the elements so they can hang for years to come.
Patrons who have sponsored quilt blocks will be included by name on the accompanying installation signage. Other sponsorship opportunities are expected to be available in the future.
For more information, email email@example.com or call Warrenton Town Hall at 252-257-1122. Follow the Quilters Lane project on Facebook @QuiltersLaneWarrenton.
Public Arts Day proclaimed
Two local government entities have passed resolutions to annually recognize the first Saturday in June as Public Arts Day. The initial request for the town of Warrenton to consider such a resolution came from the town’s Quilters Lane Committee and was supported by the Warren County Arts Council.
Warrenton’s town board passed a resolution last month, and the Warren County Board of Commissioners passed their version on April 2.
“Passing a resolution recognizing the value that the arts have historically brought to our communities, and continue to bring to our communities, is a great step forward in revitalization,” said Quilters Lane Committee co-chairwoman and Warren County Arts Council board member Charla Duncan.
Former art educator of Warren County High School for 37 years, Victoria Lehman, chairs the Warren County Arts Council and is a member of the Quilters Lane Committee and Warrenton Revitalization Committee. When asked about the presence of public art and the passing of these resolutions, she said, “Look at any place that has made progress and smart growth as a community in the past 30 years, and you will see public art.”
Both resolutions establishing Public Arts Day contain the following:
Whereas, arts comprise a rich array of disciplines including dance, music, theatre, media arts, literature, design, and visual arts; and
Whereas, the arts affect every aspect of life in America today including the economy, social problem solving, job creation, education, creativity, and community livability; and
Whereas, public art helps to create memorable experiences that are vital to community development; and
Whereas, public art plays a vital role in creating a sense of identity and understanding of the places we live, work, and play.
The resolutions also acknowledge the work that the Quilters Lane Committee is doing in downtown Warrenton to revitalize the town through public art and to recognize the heritage of the quilting arts in Warren County.
Warrenton Commis-sioner and Quilters Lane Chairman Tom Hardy expressed thanks to the county commissioners for their support of the Quilters Lane Committee and its developing art projects.
The resolutions encourage artists and others to observe Public Arts Day with appropriate activities. The inaugural Public Arts Day will be on Saturday, June 2. The Quilters Lane Committee has an activity planned in conjunction with the Warren County Arts Council and Working Landscapes, a Warrenton-based nonprofit.
Quilt block descriptions
Patterns that will be represented in the quilt block installation depicted in the image shown above are, from left to right:
Some Warren County families have favorite quilt blocks, and down on Stagecoach Road, Nell Hicks’ mother and grandmother loved making quilts with the “Grandmother’s Fan” block.
For many quilters, the “North Star” pattern represents hope. Before emancipation, the expression “follow the North Star” referred to directions given to enslaved freedom seekers, directions to the northern U.S. and to Canada, away from the plantation and out of bondage. Crystal Myrick, a young woman new to quilting, made this “North Star” quilt pattern, which signals hope for the quilting tradition in Warren County.
Nothing could be finer than the “Carolina Lily” block. It is one of those quilt blocks that every quilters wants to try making. Helen Rogers Fleming Ellington, who lived on Wilcox Street, Warrenton, made the most beautiful “Carolina Lily” ever using silk, satin and dress rayon. The “Carolina Lily” pattern reflects the desire for beauty using the language of flowers. The pattern has been popular since the mid-1800s.
Traveling northeast through Warren County toward the Lake Gaston area, we come to what is known as the Olive Grove community, where some of the finest quilters in the country lived, farmed, worshiped and made quilts. Roberta Twitty Gardner lived in Olive Grove and hand-pieced and hand-quilted the “Cactus Star” in the 1950s.
Bessie Wright Fitts also lived in Olive Grove, and like her neighbor quilters, was extraordinary. She made the intricate “Cog Wheel” block quilt.
The “Ohio Star” pattern appeared in the early 1800s and surged in popularity in the 1930s. Sug Davis’s “Ohio Star” block made a lovely quilt.
The “Courthouse Steps” is a simple block with one dark fabric square in the middle and the same color light fabric strips on opposite ends of the square. Flip it around and add the dark fabric strips on opposite ends, repeat, repeat and soon there is a complete quilt block.
In the Ridgeway community, Isabelle Ada Jordon would cut her blocks for her quilt tops and store them in a shoebox until she was ready to assemble them, usually when the weather cooled down. She loved the “Nine-Patch” block because it was simple, but “oh so beautiful” when made up into a quilt.
Ridgeway native Helen Mitchell moved to New York City and came back home with a lot of fancy quilts, some made with silks and rayon in the “Cherry Basket” block pattern.
Eight Point Star
It didn’t too much matter what cloth women used to make a quilt – feed sacks, worn-out men’s pants, dress-maker scraps, or brand new cloth from the downtown store – the quilts always turned out lovely. Portia Jenkins Harris lived in Warrenton and made an entire “Eight Point Star” quilt out of feedbags.
About the Quilters Lane project
The Quilters Lane project is led by a volunteer committee formed by the Warrenton Town Board. The committee’s vision is that the Warrenton streetscape is a place to honor tradition, celebrate a diverse and inclusive history, and engage with community through intentional design.
The Quilters Lane Committee uses the quilting arts to frame a diverse storytelling of Warren County’s history and promote community engagement through public art. East and West Market streets in Warrenton classify as Quilters Lane.