Perhaps the most known of our projects, the Quilt Trail is a self-guided tour around Manistee County.

By creating the Quilt Trail we hope to bring folks to area historical buildings by directing them to quilt patterns affixed to or nearby sites that would be of interest due to their unique backgrounds. We have one at the Kaleva Depot and at the Kaleva Art Gallery, one at the Marilla Museum and Pioneer Place, one at Norwalk, one at the Lakeview Church of the Brethren and more. Each of the quilts has an explanation of why the group chose the pattern and what the significance of the site is. We hope to add many more quilts to our trail. 

Click for the self-guided Quilt Trail Map.

Click a quilt square below to get more information including location and history. There is a complete description of each quilt on their plaque at the locations. 

​The self-guided tour is approximately ten (10) location stops over 2 hours, and about 30 miles.


If you are interested in creating and installing a historical quilt square at a historical location, the ACA is offering a $50 stipend toward the cost. Please contact Cindy at 231-299-4484 for more information on the process of creating a quilt square.


Location: 6759 Old US 31, Manistee, MI

Folks were living in Norwalk when the State Road, now called Old U.S. 31, was built through it in the 1850s. The second post office in the county opened in Norwalk in 1863, but it wasn’t until the railroad came through in 1888 that this little out-county community really turned into a bustling village.

Norwalk saw its heyday between 1910 and 1920 because of the wealth of railroad related activity, which included railway express and passenger service. A pickle station sat alongside a loading dock and a depot, which was dismantled in the 1970s. That same decade regularly scheduled train runs stopped, and in 1984 the railroad tracks were taken up. In 2005 the last visage of the railway disappeared when the train viaduct was removed from U.S. 31, leaving only a railroad gang shed, and ironically the old Chief, Michigan Railroad Depot (which was moved to Norwalk in 1998) to recall Norwalk’s importance as a part of the halcyon days of the American Railway.


Location: 14094 Coates Highway, Brethren, MI

How can a quilt block have similarities to a church? Perhaps this way. One quilt block alone can be beautiful. Let it be joined by other ‘blocks’ and it becomes a fine quilt top. Add ‘filler’ and ‘backing’ and you have an inviting, warm comforter!


Location: 7615 11 Mile Road, Bear Lake, MI

Here thousands of seedlings and transplants of both deciduous and evergreen varieties are grown for mail order as well as the Michigan Soil Conservation Districts. The quilt on the barn is an original design by Ray Lebert of Manistee. He chose and painted the abstract design using bright colors and incorporating symbols relating to the nursery.


Location: Centennial Walkway, Walta St, Kaleva, MI

Three 4x4 foot panels with Finnish inspired symbols serve as a memorial to the Finlander immigrants to Kaleva. One of the panels features a crowned lion, the coat of arms of Finland. The other two depict Finnish designs, including a poem about the homeland. These quilt patterns are found along the Centennial Walkway established by the Brethren High School’s Service Learning Class for the town’s centennial in 2000.


Location: Cart Avenue & Amick Street, Brethren, MI

The Brethren Heritage Association Quilt Square is a Log Cabin design, chosen because the museum itself features much of the logging industry at the turn of the 20th Century when Brethren was established and many of the settlers built log cabins too. The main museum itself is a log cabin.


Location: 9991 Marilla Rd, Copemish, MI

The Maple Leaf pattern has been chosen because of Marilla’s long tradition of producing maple syrup and the area’s abundance of maple trees. The pioneering Chesboro family of Marilla Township held a family tradition of planting a maple tree for each new birth in the family. In the early years of Marilla Township, according to the 1883 agricultural census, maple syrup was described as maple molasses. The Marilla Historical Society maintains four historic buildings (on site).


Location: 3340 Lake St, Arcadia, MI

The Arcadia Area Historical Society’s quilt shows patterns that were used by the Underground Railroad to provide encoded messages to escaping slaves. The flying Geese, North Star and Log Cabin patterns are combined as a message to travelers: You made it. You are here, Up North at our home, the Arcadia Area Historical Museum.


Location: 11029 Marilla Rd, Marilla MI

Marilla Church of the Brethren Quilt square is the Contemporary Cross. This pattern shows a pathway in many directions that can carry people into the life of the church and  expand their good works beyond the church to the wider community. This reflects the congregation’s motto: “Dedicated to the glory of God and our neighbor’s good.” We honor the efforts of the early Brethren at this centennial of the Marilla Church of the Brethren.


Location: 14449 Wuoski, Kaleva, MI

Autumn Star is the quilt pattern chosen by the members of the Kaleva Art Gallery. They liked the simple pattern and used blue as a predominant color reminiscent of the Finnish flag.

The Kaleva Art Gallery cooperative was started in 1997 and has occupied this building, the oldest in Kaleva, since 2004. In 1900 the building housed the office of the New York Land Company which was formed to sell the land after the white pine had been cut down. The Siirtolainen, or immigrant, brochure was printed here and sent out to Finns in the US and Finland encouraging them to settle in Kaleva. The town was named after the epic poem, the Kalevala, and the streets were given Finnish names. For many years after the printing enterprise ended, the building was known as the Drug Store, famous for cherry cokes, 45 rpm records and various drugs and sundries.


Location: 14420 Walta St, Kaleva, MI

The quilt pattern on the side the of Kaleva Depot Railroad Museum represents the tracks on which trains traveled to and from Kaleva in the late 1880s, transporting lumber from harvested white pine, and immigrants from Finland who settled the town.