Exploring the Old Mission Peninsula Quilt Barns Trail in Michigan’s Grand Traverse County
Grand Traverse County’s Old Mission Peninsula is well-known for its scenic beauty, award-winning wineries, historic lighthouse and more. The peninsula is also home to 13 “quilt barns” – historic barns featuring large quilt-inspired paintings. These unique designs are based in historical and personal significance, and add even more aesthetic beauty to these structures that have stood for decades. It is not hard to visit these barns, though a reminder that they are on private property and should be best viewed from a distance should be issued. As always, use caution when stopping to view them and be mindful of surroundings and traffic. More information and a helpful map can be found at http://www.barnsofoldmission.com/index.html. We’ve showcased these barns below in no particular order, with basic directions and a bit of info about each one – many thanks go to Russell Katje for the photographs.
Gray/Springer Barn, 1378 Gray Rd. – shows sun, water and rolling fields in a nod to the importance of agriculture to the area.
Feiger Barn, 2513 Nelson Rd. – Now home to three floors of antiques, this 1910 barn’s quilt pattern focuses on tulips.
Miller Barn, 12026 Peninsula Dr. – This barn is more than 100 years old, and its quilt uses an arrowhead pattern.
Myers’ Barn, 12655 Center Rd. – This stunning barn has stood for more than 100 years and the quilt maintains a Halloween theme.
Lardie Barn, 13286 Center Rd. – This barn is found at a fifth-generation cherry farm and vineyard, and the quilt pays tribute to the farm by depicting grapes and cherries on two of its nine squares.
M. Johnson Barn, Center Rd. north of Blue Water Rd – The quilt on this barn is a windmill pattern with cherries in the central square, a nod to the farm’s primary crop.
Lehto Barn, 15793 Smokey Hollow Rd. – The quilt on this red barn pays tribute to their heritage of the farm with both the American and Finnish flags depicted.
Krupka Barn, Smokey Hollow Rd. north of Boursaw Rd. – This barn may be one of the smaller ones, but it features one of the most colorful quilt squares. The family’s interests are feature on this “crazy quilt” pattern.
Chown Barn, 2877 Old Mission Rd. – This is one of the oldest barns, dating back to the 1870s. It features a modified Bear Paw design that makes great use of bright colors with its red and orange squares.
D & L Johnson Barn, 3463 Kroupa Rd. – This picture says it all as this barn makes for a great background for photography with or without the quilt square. The bright yellow star surrounded by blue really pops off of the bright red barn.
Quinn/Keith Barn, Center Rd. just north of Old Mission Rd. – This quilt features a Celtic cross to honor family ancestors.
Keenan/Gray Barn, 3997 Swaney Rd. – A pattern taken from a quilt made by the barn owner’s great-grandmother, this barn is found in the heart of the village of Old Mission.
O’Keefe Barn, 3068 Kroupa Rd. – The O’Keefe family purchased this barn that was in the Kroupa family since the 1920s, and it features a swirling star meant to represent the starlings that fly above the vineyards here.
The trail is quite easy to follow as Center Rd. heads north/south along the east side of the peninsula, and Peninsula Dr. follows the west side. Summer and fall are the preferred seasons for viewing these barns, and stopping to look at each one also ensures that you’re taking some time to enjoy the scenery instead of just driving past.