The history surrounding the Appalachian Quilt Squares among locals is rich, and volunteers have chosen the squares based upon traditional designs found on quilts within the Appalachian region. In Jefferson County, we have over 60 quilt blocks throughout the area and taking time to visit them all has become a popular pastime. So, let us take you on a tour of the original six Jefferson County quilt squares.
Original Six Quilt Squares
Over time, the people around Appalachia have selected significant parts of quilts to paint onto wood and then affix to a barn or structure for others to see. The squares are typically 4’x4’ or 8’x8’ in size. Our tour of the original six squares takes you around Jefferson County, where we have added a couple stops along your way.
The first quilt tile is entitled Bear Claw with Strawberries, and this quilt honors a story that dates to the 1700s. The French historian and soldier, Andre Michaux, wrote of his visits to Jefferson County and described the landscape as barren north and east of the ferry where wild strawberries matted the earth in season. “The berries covered the ground as with a red cloth. The fetlocks of a horse walking through the fields became red like blood,” Michaux wrote, thus giving the area its name. Bear Claw with Strawberries square is located on a white barn owned by the Parrott Family and found at 3171 W. Old A.J. Hwy, Strawberry Plains.
A fifteen-minute drive will bring you to the School House Square, our second on the tour, found at 1605 Russell Avenue in Jefferson City. This square is located at the Appalachian Cultural Center on the campus of Carson Newman University. The pattern was created by Sarah Moore, of slave ancestry and is based off a quilt she made that is now hanging in the McMinn County Living Heritage Museum in Athens, TN. After stopping to view this quilt square, you can walk or drive just a quarter of a mile to The Creek Café for a homemade muffin and coffee pick-me up.
We continue to the third quilt block on our trip, the Bridal Path square. Located on a farm purchased by the Garrett family in 1925. The square is located at 563 N. Chucky Pike in Jefferson City, where you might see the cattle that reside on the farm which is still in the Garrett family today.
Our fourth stop takes us to White Pine, TN where the Tall Pines square is located right in the heart of town. The quilt block is on the Old Allen-Surrett Hardware building and has had a long history of owners, beginning in early 1900s. The pattern of this square was chosen to honor the town of White Pine and is located at 1707 Main St in White Pine.
Next, we visit the Dresden Plate, originally part of a quilt made by Eliza “Pet” E. Chrisman. The quilt was in tatters when it was first found; however, her granddaughter, Terri J. Runyan, created a king-size quilt to honor the same pattern. The barn showcasing the quilt square was built in 1931 and has been in the family for four generations. This is the fifth stop on our tour and is located in the Chestnut Hill area at 1126 Swannsylvania Road. Before heading to see the sixth and final square, you must stop and visit another important part of Jefferson County history, the Bush’s Visitor Center, located just 15 minutes away from the Dresden Plate quilt square. While there, you can learn the history of the Bush family, vist their general store, and then stop at the Bush’s Café for lunch and a slice of one of their famous pies. Added bonus, there’s a quilt square at the Visitor’s Center you can check out while you’re there.
After touring this piece of history we take off to our final quilt square, located at 149 E. Main Street in Dandridge. The Stars Over Tennessee square is located at the Historic Gass Building, which houses Southern Charm Kitchen, and Dandridge Merchantile shop. After viewing the Stars over Tennessee quilt square your stay in Jefferson County does not have to end! Within walking distance is the Shephard Inn, antique stores, restaurants. For additional travel information, our website showcases our beautiful area and offers places unique to Dandridge, and the surrounding area just minutes from everything in East Tennessee!
Eat, Play, and Stay while visiting the Jefferson County Quilt Trail
When planning to drive the Quilt Trail in Jefferson County, you can take the entire weekend to eat, play, and stay! We have highlighted only six of the squares, but there is so much more.