BZA asked to OK historic barn/wedding venues – The Star Press


MUNCIE, Ind. — Barn enthusiasts are asking the Metropolitan Board of Zoning Appeals for variances to allow the structures to be used as venues for weddings and other celebrations.

The BZA is scheduled to conduct public hearings on July 30 on two unrelated zoning variance applications for event-venue businesses — one at 6000 W. Delaware County Road 400-N, Harrison Township, and one at 14361 E. Delaware County Road 500-S, Perry Township.

“I’ve always loved old barns, and I want other people to be able to experience it, too,” says Annette Caldwell, who has seen her fair share of them as a real estate agent. “This is one of the better barns around,” she said, referring to the former dairy barn and milk house at the Harrison Township address.

“It’s large, beautiful and in great shape,” she said in an interview when contacted by The Star Press concerning her application. “The other nice thing is the location; it’s close to everything (the site is near Nebo Road, north of the Meijer superstore).”

Delaware County is already home to at least four barn/rustic wedding venues.

Caldwell is not certain why farm-house weddings are popular but says “I just know they are.” She calls attention to the fame achieved by Joanna Gaines, co-host of the former reality television show “Fixer Upper,” which has been credited with the rise in popularity of “Farm-house Chic.”

What Caldwell likes about farmsteads is that they remind her of a simpler time, and it breaks her heart to see historic barns falling down across the state. Talking about her passion for preservation reminds Caldwell that Delaware County remains one of only a handful of Hoosier counties to have torn down their historic courthouses.

The former working farm where Caldwell hopes to open an event venue has shrunk to less than six acres, having been sold off as building lots by prior owners.

Fred Daniel, a planner at the Delaware-Muncie Metropolitan Plan Commission, called the barn unique, in that “it’s not square or round or rectangular, it sprawls in several directions. I’ve never seen anything like it, except on a dairy farm.”

Though the barn is red, Caldwell plans to return it to its historic color: white.

Meanwhile, on the far-east side of the county, with a Parker City address, Christopher and Katherine Straley are seeking a zoning variance to allow an event-venue business at the Perry Township location, which is also unique.

The secluded property includes a residence, an Amish-built barn, a three-stall English-style carriage house and a beautifully decorated, 19th-century guest log cabin rescued from London, Ky.

The barn already has been converted into a wedding space, known as The Barn at Cottonwood, “so it’s ready to go,” Christopher Straley told The Star Press when contacted about the variance application.

“This is a very unique property that needs to be shared with all of Delaware County,” the Straleys said in their application.  ” … we are excited to share our home and property with couples on the biggest day of their lives.”

In 2018, the BZA approved a variance for Bailey’s Place, a  wooded event center including an 1800s cabin across the road from Cardinal Hills Golf Course.

Also that year, the BZA granted a variance to allow Welch Winery on the north side of Prairie Creek Reservoir to build an event center.

Several other rural event centers, including former barns, have popped up in Delaware County in recent years to capitalize on the popularity of the barn/rustic wedding style.

They include The Barn on Boundary, Eaton. In Yorktown, the former Camp Isanogel, including a barn, was converted into The Loft on Isanogel, another wedding/celebration venue. The Lodge at River Valley Farm is another rustic wedding venue in Yorktown.

Contact Seth Slabaugh at (765) 213-5834 or seths@muncie.gannett.