The Florida Quilt Museum and Quilt Trail
By Janice Jones
The Florida Quilt Trail is part of the American Quilt Trail movement and began here in the Sunshine State in 2013, in Trenton, Fla., just 20 minutes west of Gainesville.
Historic downtown Trenton is just off I-75, a one-stoplight town packed with charm and quilt-inspired art. Trenton is home to the Florida Quilt Museum, which serves as headquarters for the Florida Quilt Trail.
From Branford to Madison, Live Oak to Lake City, High Springs and Yankeetown, quilt-block hunting has taken off as a hand-crafted art treasure for travelers to find.
The Quilt Trail is one of the fastest-growing grassroots public arts movements in the United States and features colorful patterns of quilt squares, called “blocks,” painted in large scale, on the sides of buildings, including often barns or historical locales.
Trenton alone has more than 20 quilt blocks to see, but the quilt trail is bursting into life along the I-75 corridor. Consider this a great way to enjoy old Florida.
The communities that tout quilt blocks are reflective of the historical days in the south. Most of the buildings that are home to a quilt block have a historical background and can lead you on a path to learning more about Florida’s history.
The blocks themselves always have a story behind them -- memorializing a historical pattern or a quilt-maker, or are representative of the quilt-block designer’s business or hobby. In White Springs, for example, you can see a classic Yo Yo quilt. In Trenton, the local watermelon farmer showcases his farm with a happy watermelon and sunflower image quilt block.
Nearby Chiefland, just a 15 minute drive from Trenton, also boasts a quilt shop housed in an attractive log cabin. You’ll find even more historical quilts donated and on display here.
Expect more communities to be added to the Florida Quilt Trail list as the movement grows here in the Sunshine State. Find them online at floridaquilttrail.com
The Florida Quilt Museum showcases a clever collection of quilts and an ever-changing display of quilt work.
From historical patterns, to miniatures, Victorian crazy quilts, and even modern quilt art, you’ll gain a new appreciation of this ages-old art form.
The Museum building is noteworthy itself; it’s part of a historical collection of buildings and used to be a dry goods store, established in 1910. Next door there’s a 1906 Rail Depot, a 1925 Coca Cola bottling factory and an ice house.
Suwannee Valley Shoppes
The Coca Cola buildings now house an entertaining collection of shops that includes the Suwannee Rose Cafe, Ruffled Rose Tearoom, an Old Time Soda Fountain and the Suwannee Valley Quilt Shop, which boasts more than 7,000 bolts of fabric. If you aren’t already a quilt-fanatic, the bug might bite you here.
You can drool your way through endless rows of patterns, and then enjoy a lunch and fresh-baked pastries in the friendly hometown cafe. This experience is attractive to tour groups, but there’s plenty of space, good food and boutique shopping. There is enough here to fill up an afternoon, and if you factor in the friendly chattiness of the locals, a whole day.