Exploring History via Quilt Art: Tualatin Valley’s Quilt Barn Trail
The nostalgia, heritage and history of this region is illustrated by the barns and buildings that make up the Quilt Barn Trail of Tualatin Valley. The trail is made up of 60 hand-painted wood blocks affixed to barns and buildings in rural Tualatin Valley. Each block has been hand-painted in traditional quilt patterns, often telling a story about the farm where it’s located. The patterned blocks along the trail highlight the valley’s agricultural and historical heritage while creating accessible public art and showcasing the art of quilting.
Selected Stories of the Quilt Barns
Haag Farm (4825 NE Starr Blvd, Hillsboro)is an historic farm — the barn dates from 1904 and the farmhouse from 1890. It was the site of the early Methodist Meeting House and is listed in the Washington County Historic Inventory. The Haags had a nursery and grew lilies here, and this history is represented by the barn’s “Lily” block.
In the early 1900s, the Sears catalog was the go-to place to order whatever you needed…including your home. This long-gone era is commemorated by the quilt block at Taghon Century Farm (1645 NW Cornelius-Shefflin Road, Cornelius). The property includes several buildings from the original farm, as well as the Sears Modern Home.
Birds are given their due at Unger Place (10300 NW Gordon Road, Cornelius) with the quilt block “Tweet Sanctuary,” named for the site’s cedar trees that attract lots of birds, especially the red-winged blackbird, which is commemorated on the block.
The Oregon Trail is an ongoing theme for some of the quilt blocks. The “Hovering Hawks” block at the Simpson Century Farm (31535 SW Simpson Road, Cornelius) pays homage to the pattern created by women crossing the Oregon Trail.
The block at Demmin Farm (33488 SW Tongue Lane, Cornelius) honors Capt. Lester Demmin (USN retired), who captained a nuclear submarine during the Cold War, with a “Captain’s Star” block. Capt. Demmin and family owned the farm until 1998, when it was purchased by Forest Hills Farms, Inc.
The “Evergreen Tree” block at the Krause Farm (34560 SW Johnson School Road, Cornelius) represents the logging done in the past; the purple twining surround represents the vineyard grapes. This barn housed a small-scale seed cleaning mill in the mid-twentieth century. There have been trees here, used for lumber, and wine-grapes as well as other crops. Currently, the farm is operated by Forest Hills Farms, Inc.
Woodpeckers also get the quilt block treatment at the Davidson Farm (16511 NW Davidson Road, Banks). Designed by local artist Allison Rogers, the block, titled “Pileated Woodpeckers” adorns the barn on this century-old farm.
Forest Grove, Oregon
The bright “Sunflower” quilt block at Sun Gold Farm (9500 NW Evers Road, Forest Grove; sungoldfarm.com) perfectly illustrates the vibrancy of this farm, which grows and markets vegetables, fruits and nuts. This farm has been in the family since 1940, and it was originally a dairy, dating back to the 1800s.
The Harding Retreat (47301 SW Carpenter Creek Road, Forest Grove) features the “Jungle Flower” block. The Hardings love to vacation in tropical places and this colorful block reminded them of those trips.
The “Double Wedding Ring” block is prominently displayed at Plum Hill Vineyards (6505 SW Old Highway 47, Gaston; plumhillwine.com). This romantic pattern has been around since the 1920s and is used here to commemorate the marriage of the property’s owners.
The Walta Farm (9500 SW Old Hwy 47, Gaston) features a “Corn and Beans” block, a classic pattern of greens and yellow representing the sweet corn and green beans grown here in rotation. Currently, sweet corn, green beans, wheat and clover are rotated crops. The old barn is old, not currently in use, is a “drive-through” style, so a team of horses could enter one end and out the other.