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Quilt Trail takes shape in downtown Kingsport

Susan Kendrick Lauhoff • Sep 6, 2012 at 9:13 AM

When the Appalachian Quilt Trail started looking into hanging panels in urban areas, the art response was successful. Downtown Kingsport is the fifth in Northeast Tennessee to do so, after Jonesborough, Greeneville, Rogersville and Mountain City. Our Model City is a haven for those interested in art, antiques, unique gifts, clothing, dining, architecture, beauty and exploration. Shops abound with a variety of offerings and the addition of a walking tour for the urban quilts extends the heritage of our community.

This project involves the collaborative efforts of the Downtown Kingsport Association (DKA), Appalachian Resource Conservation & Development Council (RC&D), Kingsport Cultural Arts, Public Art Kingsport, Kingsport Art Guild (KAG), city planners, students from the Cora Cox Academy (formerly New Horizons Alternative School), private donors and area families.

Sullivan County residents were asked to submit their quilt stories for consideration. The two recently-erected panels on the Farmer's Market are the first of at least 12 that are in various stages of being prepared for downtown historical buildings. The 4-by-4-foot murals are being designed and painted by several artist volunteers/members of the Kingsport Art Guild and by local students.

Bonnie Macdonald, with the Kingsport Office of Cultural Arts, supports the Quilt Trail coming into downtown Kingsport.

"Quilts are part of our family heritage. They are handed down through a family or close friendship. When we hang a quilt block on a building, we might remind the viewer of the generations of families that have been supported or that have spent time in that business or location over the years."

The Guide by Cell (like the Downtown Sculptures Walk) will eventually be available for the urban quilt panels, as the "Quilt Trail Tales of Downtown Kingsport" will offer viewers the opportunity to learn more about the history regarding the families and patterns, as well as our Appalachian culture and heritage.

Each panel is $200. If interested in making a donation or learning more about the downtown quilt trail, please call the DKA at 423-246-6550 or email kptquilts@gmail.com.

As our series on the Sullivan County Quilt Trail draws to a close, there are several people I must recognize for their contributions and for their love of quilts, farming, agriculture, art and Northeast Tennessee, as well as for their willingness, at any time, to answer all my questions.

Roy Settle, Mary Faulkner, Bonnie Macdonald, Lynice Broyles and especially all the gracious and hospitable barn owners from whom I gleaned so much, y’all truly are the best. Sharing your heartfelt stories, including some I could not print, brought side-splitting laughter and offered glimpses into a by-gone era when the need existed to rely on one’s own hard work to provide the food on the table from which a family would eat.

Many thanks go to all the readers, especially for their calls, copies of the stories and support. And, lastly, I must thank the Sunday Stories' team for entrusting me with a spark of an idea that turned into "flames" and my husband, Steve, who now scouts quilt panels when traveling. You have all opened my eyes to an artistry filled with history in God’s little heaven on earth.

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