My journey to West Rowan Farm, Home, and Garden Inc. started back around Christmas even before I knew about barn quilts. I was doing some Christmas shopping in downtown Spencer, NC at Mary Mae’s, A Southern Mercantile, and while shopping I came across “Barn Quilts of Rowan” 2019 calendars. I was drawn to the front cover of the beautiful barn quilt and found out it was in the Western part in Rowan County. I purchased several calendars as gifts and I even grabbed a couple for myself.
Mary Mae’s Barn Quilt Painting Workshop
Owner of Mary Mae’s, Connie Edwards, informed me that they were hosting a barn quilt painting workshop on Saturday, March 30, 2019. Reserve a spot for that class by contacting her at (704) 431-4875. This conversation with Connie prompted me to ask about who was teaching the barn quilt class and she directed me to Rowan Farm, Home, and Garden store in Mt. Ulla. My journey was just beginning!
A Scenic Drive on N.C. Highway 801
I decided to drive from Salisbury on N.C. Highway 801 and I was surprised at what a beautiful stretch of highway it was to drive on! There are so many pastures, different livestock, and best of all… barn quilts! I caught myself looking for them on almost every piece of farm land that I passed, and they certainly were not hard to find. The closer I got to the store the more excited I was to meet with the owner and find out all about barn quilts.
A Step Back in Time at West Rowan Farm, Home, and Garden Inc.
West Rowan Farm, Home, and Garden Inc. is located at 11575 N.C. Highway 801, Mt. Ulla, NC. The store for me was like stepping back in time to the country stores I remembered as a child when I would visit my grandparents that were also farmers. Walking in I noticed the ice cream counter and chocolate dipped goodies, candies, and there right in the middle of the store was Elsie Bennett working on a huge barn quilt! She laid down her paint brush and started talking to me like we had always known each other. Elsie was gracious enough to fill me in on all the activities going on at their store along with other activities surrounding them in West Rowan. She is most definitely a community booster!
Elsie’s Original Barn Quilt Designs – A True Artform
Elsie custom designs every one of her barn quilts. There is a book Elise referred to as her “quilt bible” that she uses as an inspiration and it has over 5,500 designs within it. Elsie makes sure that none of her designs are in the book which makes all her quilts unique. All of the designs are hand drawn and can take her anywhere from 2 hours to 2 days to draw completely. After completing the drawings, she works with her clients to decide on a color scheme that reflects their vision for the quilt. Elsie said, “any true barn quilt should be able to be made into a fabric quilt”. She is a master at this art! She showed me many designs that she had completed and many that she is currently working on. Right now, she is working on barn quilts for Patterson Farm, which will include interchangeable pieces depending on the crops that are in season. She is also working on three barns quilts for the Country Life Museum located at Sloan Park in Mt. Ulla and barn quilts for all the West Rowan Volunteer Fire Departments. She recently completed barn quilts for Mt. Ulla Elementary which is just down the road from her store. Elsie is most definitely someone that could use more than 24 hours in a day!
Many Hands Make It Possible
While interviewing Elsie that day her husband came into the store. Brian was extremely pleasant and it was obvious to me that he was very proud of his wife’s artistic abilities. He was talking to me about how hard she works and then said “I’m sure she has mentioned this to you, but she couldn’t do all of this without her volunteers! Volunteers are angels for her”. A few minutes after saying that, in walked Ms. Terri Johnston, a volunteer. Ms. Johnston walked in with her arms full of gifts for Elsie because it was Elsie’s birthday that day! She came in with a gallon of exterior paint, a paint roller pan, paint roller refills, and lunch that included what looked like a delicious oatmeal cream cookie. After a little chatting, Ms. Johnston asked Elsie, “do you have any painting for me”? Elsie ran and grabbed her a foam paint brush and put her to work. I asked Ms. Johnston about her volunteer work there and she told me it was “therapeutic”. Some other volunteers that help include Elsie’s mother, Ms. Linda Hughes, and Ms. Susan Owens.
Biggest Community Barn Quilt in North Carolina
Calling all artists! Elsie painted a barn quilt on the front of her store that was a finalist in “Our State Magazine” in 2018 The name of this quilt is “Roselind’s Flower” and was painted in memory of Ms. Ronney Steele, a previous owner of the store. It is proudly displayed on the front of the store and just happened to be the first thing I saw when I parked my car. Her next ambition is to make the “Biggest Community Barn Quilt in North Carolina”! For this to happen, she will need a lot of volunteers to create this piece of history in West Rowan which will be for our entire county to see. She will need (80) 2×2 squares, (4) 4×4’s, and (1) 6×6 square. And if this wasn’t cool enough, the 6×6 square will be painted by a local special needs group and will be located right in the center of the barn quilt. At the completion of this project, it will be 420 square feet in total and will be proudly displayed on the side of their store! If you would like to participate in this making of history in Rowan County, give them a call at (704) 278-2800. The cost to paint a barn quilt is only $45 and you can choose to take your board with you or donate it to this project. The next upcoming class is on Saturday, March 16, 2019 from 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. Another class will be held on Saturday, April 27, 2019 at the same times.
The Journey is Just Beginning for this Hidden Gem
The West Rowan Farm, Home, and Garden Inc. was originally called Old Steele Feed and Seed. Brian and Elsie have owned the business for six years now. More renovations are on the way in the Spring of 2019 along with a name change. The new name will be “The Bear Poplar Place”. It will be a place to paint, a place to socialize, and a place for the community. I’m happy I stumbled across those calendars back in December because they lead me to a place I would never have known about. I have a feeling I’ll be having a barn quilt in my life in 2019!