By Sally Tippett Rains
Every year when we drive to Spring Training we stop at the same places. This year in an attempt to drive shorter days where we did not have to stop and use public restrooms we added an extra day and stopped in Paducah, Kentucky. We really enjoyed our visit to the Paducah historical district, which is set on the Ohio River.
“And it’s Cardinals Country,” said Mary Hammond, of the Paducah Convention and Visitor Bureau. “Cards all the way!”
The area is full of buildings built in the 1800’s, with historic markers throughout, including the William Clark Market House Museum. That museum features a Civil War room with a quilt made by Mrs. Robert E. Lee.
Speaking of quilts, whenever you mention that you are going to Paducah, there are some people who will immediately say, “You should go to the quilt museum!” We own a lot of quilts so I was somewhat interested, but my husband Rob Rains was more interested in getting home so he could get back to the Cardinals activity, and really didn’t think he would have an interest in a quilt museum.
I persuaded him to “at least drive past it.”
“I was so surprised at how big it is!,” he said and we stopped to see it. “The National Quilt Museum is really amazing.”
So even a sports fan can enjoy the National Quilt Museum and driving around it there are a lot of fascinating things to see including the river wall full of artistic murals.
The city bills itself as the “City of Crafts and Folk Art.” Architectural Digest has written about how beautiful the buildings are.
One of the most noticeable settings is the long river wall, shown in the photo above. Artist Robert Dafford and his team captured Paducah’s rich history in life-sized paintings on the river city’s floodwall. These murals are called “Portraits from Paducah’s Past” and overlook the confluence of the Ohio and Tennessee Rivers. The purpose of the murals is to illustrate Paducah’s historical significance and creative connection.
It’s fitting being right next to the quilt museum, which also showcases artistic creations.
“The National Quilt Museum is not to be missed,” said travel writer Kathy Witt. “Especially as this year is its thirtieth anniversary and the museum is marking it with some really special exhibits.
As they say on their website, “The National Quilt Museum promotes the growth and expansion of quilting by bringing the art form to new audiences around the world through exhibitions, education programs, and quilt preservation efforts, and advocacy.”
The museum exhibits the best of the best in quilt and fiber art throughout the year at the facility in Paducah, KY. Exhibits are made up of quilts from The Collection of The National Quilt Museum and exhibits on loan from other facilities and organizations. Exhibits are rotated 10 to 12 times per year so there is always something new to see.
“‘Sew Many Quilts’ (now through June 8) is a celebration of how the museum has grown from 85 quilts on loan to 600-plus works of art in its permanent collection,” said Witt. “For ‘Quarantine Quilts: Creativity in the Midst of Chaos’ (June 4-Aug. 31), 30 quilts show life through the lens of a global pandemic. ‘Never Forget’ (July 30-Nov. 2) commemorates the twentieth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. A visit to this museum is a highlight of any trip to Paducah.”
The National Quilt Museum is open on Sundays from 1pm-5pm March 1st through November 30. The museum is closed on Sundays December 1st through February 28th. Masks must be worn at the time we were there and they do have COVID-19 protocol in place. There is a so much to look as well as a gift shop.
Just across from the quilt museum is a group of statues.
The title of the display is “On the Trail of Discovery” and features five bronze figures: Meriwether Lewis, William Clark, a generic Indian man and girl, and Clark’s big explorer dog Seaman. It was funded by the founders of the Quilting Museum, on whose lawn the statues stand.
Also in the historic district is the first framed house. It was built by Albert Hayes in 1826 and had three rooms. Tradition is that Gen. William Clark stayed here
“Paducah is an easy weekend getaway from St. Louis, and there are many new developments on the horizon here,” said Laura Oswald of the Paducah Convention and Visitors Bureau.
There is a lot to see in Paducah, whether you choose to park and explore by foot, take a trolley or a carriage ride. History is just waiting to be discovered.