Barn quilts placed on Springfield Township barn
A Springfield Township barn recently received an interesting makeover in the form of quilt design blocks.
The quilt designs are visible from Old Kennedy Road, which is named after the family, and have sparked quite a bit of interest from passing motorists since being put up in May 2012. Property owner Janice Kennedy said she has noticed quite a few cars pulling off to the side of the road to look at the works of art.
The idea originally came from family friend and contractor Ralph Wilston, who is an avid quilter along with Kennedy. Wilston used his skills in both quilting and contracting to create and install the design blocks.
Barn quilts are believed to have originated in Pennsylvania approximately 300 years ago when many European immigrants were arriving in America.
The barn has quilt designs on three sides, all visible from the road. Each design has a special meaning to Kennedy, who picked and helped design the patterns used. The two designs on the front of the barn, the bear's paw and hunter's star, were chosen by Kennedy because "we have many hunters that come here during deer season to hunt," she said.
A total of 20 designs are on the barn, nine on both the east and west facing sides, and two on the front, facing south. The Kennedy barn is unique from others like it in the U.S., as most quilted barns only have one design on them.
Kennedy noted that the design of the first quilt she ever created at the age of 10, the "double Irish chain," is one of the designs that can be seen from the west side of the barn.
The barn is located directly across the street from the Kennedy residence, which was estimated to have been built in the 1880's. The property itself has a long Kennedy family history that dates back to the 1820's.
The house Kennedy lives in dates back to the 1820's as well, although rooms have been added on and it received some necessary renovations over the years.
Kennedy, now age 88, was a teacher in Troy for 23 years and worked at Mansfield University for 20 years before retiring at 65 as the Director of the Academic Advising Center.
Kennedy has always been very active with quilting. She belongs to the Elmira Piecemakers guild, which is a club centered around the promotion of quilting in the Twin Tiers area. Kennedy also holds a masters degree from Cornell in clothing and textiles.
According to Kennedy, there are many descendants of the family living in the Springfield area, and some aren't even aware they are related. Kennedy shared a joke that was told to her by a professor of Mansfield University many years ago, who said, "Don't say anything about anybody in this area because everybody is related to everybody."
Throughout her life, Kennedy explained that she has tried to be helpful to other people whenever possible. The words she lives by are, "I will help you, you will help others, and the help will never stop," which was told to her by the late George W. Cass, who was a sociology professor at Mansfield University and personal mentor to Kennedy.
Kennedy's son, William Kennedy, shares his mother's belief of doing good in the community and also shares her passion for the arts. William is the sixth generation of the Kennedy family that is involved with the property.
The sense of family present in the Kennedy household is very prominent, and the quilt designs are just one of the interesting stories they have to offer.
Tim Zyla can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.