I am creating a journal quilt again this year, Fifty-two Wednesdays. Each week, I select one image from my life and stitch it into a rectangular block.
The week ending on Wednesday, April 27, was filled with possibilities. We were in Padcuah, KY at the annual AQS show there, ending each day with time on the river. Of course, the thousands of inspirational ideas from quilts and vendors there would make many quilts, and we played on a caboose, saw bison in a prairie at Land Between the Lakes, and made a special trip to photograph fields of canola.
But the image that has been front and center in my brain since Sunday morning is that of the hauntingly beautiful walls of the house at Barnsley Gardens. Cotton broker Godfrey Barnsley bought 10,000 acres of land outside Adairsville, GA, and began building a manor house in 1842.
More than a century of misfortune had brought the mansion and its once magnificent gardens to ruin. You can read details at wikipedia or other online sources, but the Civil War and a tornado in 1906 explain a lot. In 1988, the remains of the property including the manor house were purchased and restoration begun.
I was entranced. Spellbound. On this quiet Sunday morning, Jim and I were in another world, another time. The skies were spectacularly blue, the sun bright, but at that early morning angle that photographers love. Shadows changed with every tilt of the head and with every step on the wooden floors.
Bare brick walls nearing two centuries in age reached to the sky. Window openings, sometimes with wooden frames clinging to the old mortar, were more spiritual than any stained glass window. Empty tealight holders nestled in openings in the brick walls, hinting at how magical this place would be in the darkness, too.
Before we left the trails surrounding the house, Clent Coker, author and historian, caught up with us and filled in some details of the restoration. His knowledge gave us a more complete understanding of the family and the land here. I am so thankful that someone decided to preserve this beautiful place as part of the lovely resort that is now on site. I am more thankful that they stopped before recreating a fine Italian villa. I love the crumbling bricks covered with algae, the skeletal structure of the building revealed.
This place will appear in Fifty-two Wednesdays and perhaps other quilt projects as well. I photographed bare walls with plans to stitch vines growing on them. I photographed the foyer floor whose brick inlay pattern looks like a unique quilt layout to me. And the three-tiered fountain and flowers blooming may show up in yet other projects.
“Seemingly insignificant moments…”, Jim remarked as we drove away. Had it not been for traffic delays and detours on Saturday, this magical Sunday morning might not have been part of our story.