119 Westview DrWashington, IA 52353 (319) 653-6621


Every Day is an Artful Day

Washington is bursting with art! Our town offers two state-of-the-art performing arts venues that provide a regular schedule of performances, from music to live theater. Galleries and places to create fill the need for visual arts, and instruction in art, music and dance is available, too.

Washington’s claim to fame is as home to a Guinness World Record movie theater! The State was certified in 2016 as the World’s Oldest Continually Operating Cinema Theatre. We are so proud to have this gem of a building and access to family films in our town!

The Washington Community Center and the Washington Area Performing Arts and Events Center always have something in the works. Residents and visitors enjoy their musicals and plays, and the kids get comfortable on stage at their summer camps. Plus, acts of all kinds bring their forms of entertainment to us throughout the year.

Want to learn about and create art? You’re in luck with the LET’s Center for the Healing & Creative Arts.  This nonprofit organization has a mission to give people a place to experience, practice and do art. They offer numerous classes every month, including hands-on wreath and jewelry making, chalk art, painting and more. Readings and other events also have a home here. It’s a place for adults and youth to get creative and make something you can give as a gift or keep for yourself.

Nearby communities in Washington County also offer interesting options, often in historical buildings such as opera houses. And remember, we’re the barn quilt capital, too! Color your world with art, music, movement and performance in our little corner of Iowa!

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Founded in 1839, seven years before the State of Iowa was established, Washington has a long and storied history—one that is always on display with its historic buildings and homes.

Want to see a movie in the exact location where patrons first saw moving pictures? Washington’s State Theater, formerly known as The Graham Opera House, has been in operation since May 14, 1897, and has been certified as the world’s oldest continuously operating cinema theatre, according to the Guinness Book of World Records. The theater shows first-run movies in a historically preserved theater that offers all the modern conveniences such as digital projection, surround sound and new seats.

In addition to being the birthplace of cinema, there’s more to see and learn about local history from the Conger House Museum, the F Troop Military Museum, and we offer self-driving tours of historic homes and barn quilts. In fact, Washington is the official ‘Barn Quilt Capital of Iowa’ and our self-driving tour affords visitors an opportunity to see the countryside around our city while enjoying the lovely quilts painted on the large barns on well-kept farms.

The Washington Farmers’ Market is celebrating our 35th year of a true Growers market. We pride ourselves that our vendors make, bake, or grow all the products that they sell. If you’re interested in becoming a market vendor or highlighting your business or non-profit as a guest spotlight, please contact Bob Shepherd at 319-458-9396 or Sarah Grunewaldt at 651-707-3431.

The Market Advisory Board can be reached by email at washington.iamkt@gmail.com.

Cottage Foods Guidance for Licensing

Featured food trucks return to the Washington Farmers’ Market this season. If you have a food truck & would like to be featured, please contact washington.iamkt@gmail.com


The Barn Quilt Project & Committee

Washington County’s Barn Quilts started in 2007 with a local committee who began with the purpose of preserving our area barns. These barn quilts tell stories about individual farms while adding visual interest to the countryside and increasing rural tourism. A committee led by Terry & Julie Mangold (featured on the Agriculture Loop with Cows in the Pasture) began planning, identifying potential barns, and fundraising. The project divided the county into four loops, each with a name that announces a theme informing color and pattern selection. As many as 15-20 barn quilts would go up in one loop per year. While many of the loops are located on hard-surfaced roads, we invite you to cut across an unpaved road and even discover a new location.

Many out-of-state visitors are surprised to discover that glaciers created Washington County, carving the landscape into a series of drift plains, rolling hills, and shallow valleys. Pioneers were surrounded by prairie grasses and wildflowers that are still visible in over 2,100 protected areas. Agriculture (corn, soybeans, pork, cattle, turkeys, sheep) remains the county’s predominant economic activity.

We invite you to wind through the beautiful SE Iowa countryside and visit our Barn Quilts. We have 4 loops: the Amish loop, Ag loop, Nature loop and Liberty loop. We’re glad you’re here in Washington County and hope your Barn Quilt Tour is a safe and enjoyable one. Please:

  • Observe traffic laws. Remember: Amish buggies have the same traffic rights as cars.
  • Be aware of vehicles behind you if you slow down to observe a barn quilt.
  • The wide shoulders on our roads are used by the Amish buggies. Please do not park here!
  • Be respectful of rights-of-way and owners’ property if you stop.
  • Take only photos; leave nothing else behind.
  • You may start the tour at any point on the loop. Traveling one loop without stopping should take approximately an hour.

Download our Barn Quilt Brochure.

Barn Quilt Tour Loops

About Washington County Barn Quilts and the Mini Barn Quilt Project

In 2022 the Washington Middle School extended learning program students, and gifted art students, partnered on a mini barn quilt tour project for most of the year. Approximately 70 students identified a local barn quilt that can actually be found throughout Washington County to replicate. The project challenged the students in areas of math and geometry to sketch the quilt designs. Communication skills were brought in when the students contacted the barn quilt owners to ask about the history and significance of the design that was selected for their property. These individual stories can be heard through the voices of the student artists by scanning a QR code found on the back of each mini barn quilt. Take a look at their class project here!

These mini barn quilts are now up for purchase! We are asking a minimum donation of $50. Half of the donated funds will put to use in the ELP classroom on their next project and the other half will be used towards the costs of renovating the existing barn quilts.  Click here to view all of the available quilts. To purchase, please contact Connie Kuhlman at ckuhlman@washington.k12.ia.us


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