Nestled in the middle of a 53-acre wood in is one of the most inviting and beautiful settings for a barn. But not just any barn— it’s The Meadowood wedding barn, about 15 miles southeast of Mansfield, Ohio, in Richland County. The driveway is long and winding, passing by a hayfield and then up a hill into the woods. As the driveway tops out and rounds a bend, all at once a beautiful meadow spreads out before you, with a pond sprinkled with lily pads adjoined by a small dock. A large flagstone patio is crowned with a massive stone fireplace that’s 20 feet tall.
And then there is the barn, brimming with charm and history. Built in the 1820s, it is a three-bay bank barn (accessible on more than one level) with a cantilevered forebay. For the first 150 years of its life, it was a fully functioning barn with livestock, hay and grain storage. If you stand still in the middle of the mow floor and close your eyes, you can almost hear the cows softly lowing and munching hay in the basement beneath you. The hewn-timber frame and barn wood siding have been left exposed on the interior, capturing the warm, rustic feel of days gone by.
UPGRADES: New owners Sarah and Cody Gerhardt are continuing with what previous owners have done to upgrade the barn and grounds.
From housing animals to tying the knot
Starting with the Bissmen family, the barn underwent a transformation from farming use to a wedding venue for their daughter’s wedding. At the turn of the 21st century, the property was purchased by Montie and Connie Young, who took it to the next level by having the barn pulled back onto its foundation and secured with “dead men” (reinforcing posts) in the barn hill. They reworked the grounds and added landscaping, creating intimate areas for smaller wedding gatherings.
The upper level of the barn has a bride’s room and restrooms for the bride and bridesmaids to prepare for the coming event. The driveway in the center of the barn is lighted by a chandelier composed of eveners — beams attached to horse-drawn vehicles that stabilized weight distribution between animals. Old lanterns hang from the eveners, providing a softly lit atmosphere. Twinkle lights are draped throughout. Through the wind doors at the end of the center bay is the upper deck, where a panoramic vista awaits.
The lower level opens out onto a huge patio, which is used for receptions, entertainment and refreshments. From here, wedding guests can wander the grounds.
Next came the new owners, Sarah and Cody Gerhardt, and their children; Gracie, 5, and Grant, 3. The Gerhardts bring with them the energy of youth, and the couple has plans for expansion. The first project will be a small cabin up behind the barn for the groom and groomsmen.
The Meadowood barn has been very fortunate to have owners that have been good stewards, with each succeeding owner maintaining and improving on its presentation and amenities.
NEW USES: The Meadowood is one example of many ways a historic barn can be repurposed to fit new uses.
Repurpose and adapt
The Meadowood is one example of many ways a historic barn can be repurposed to fit the lifestyle and economic fabric of today. Just as the barns of old evolved and adapted to the changes of the agricultural world, they can do likewise today. However, to be truly successful and sustainable, plans and construction must be well-thought-out and executed.
First and foremost is the structural integrity of the barn. Then, working with local and state authorities, owners must ensure all regulations and zoning requirements are met for the intended use, either private or public. A well-developed plan can be implemented in stages and grow as the business grows.
Friends of Ohio Barns encourages the saving of historic barns by being creative and putting them to new uses. If a barn cannot remain on its original site, it can be dismantled and moved to a new site and reassembled. Barns come in all sizes and have open interiors easily adaptable to many needs or uses. They are just waiting for someone to love them again.
For more information on The Meadowood, visit themeadowood.com.
Do you have a barn on a Century Farm you would like to share? Contact Gray at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 740-253-1369.