The barn was built during the WWII era in 1943, per our tax records, in Woodburn, IN, officially the smallest city in Indiana. However, it may have been built even earlier than that. Per to the Allen County Board of Zoning Appeals, "According to tax records the buildings on the property date back to the 1940's. However, agricultural and residential buildings are shown on this site on the 1938 aerials and were likely established even earlier." It is a bank barn, and they definitely do not make them like they used to. The barn was built with native timbers that are still original to the building and still incredible to look at to this day. This barn was transformed into a popular reception hall called the Little Red Barn in the early 60's by Ruby and Oscar Hanefeld, who owned the property before us. Now back then, the road we live on used to be a dirt/stone road and turning a cow barn into a reception hall was pretty unconventional. Needless to say, they had some guts. However, it turned out to be pretty successful and operated into the late 80's. Several people in town remember attending parties at the Little Red Barn or having their own get togethers in it. Unfortunately, Ruby and Oscar had passed away well before we purchased the property, so we couldn't get the full story on how they managed to do everything. However, their daughter lives next to us and their two sons still live in the community. They told me that they literally had to go out there all summer one year to shovel out all the cow poop, and build the upstairs dance floor because at the time it was just a hayloft and now the whole upstairs is a gorgeous hardwood dance floor. They even added on to the barn to add bathrooms and indoor plumbing all by themselves. The incredible amount of work and perseverance to put the Little Red Barn together really inspires me, and I feel like it deserves to live on. The barn sat for 25 years with very little maintenance and faded out of memory somewhat. That’s when my husband and I took a wrong left turn. We were out to look at another house down the road, and stumbled upon this property that had been for sale for some time, and we just happened to be in the market. We were advised that purchasing this property for our first home was probably against our best interest being young with a young family, and old farm house is a lot of work. The realtor actually took us to 5 other houses before we decided on this one. We knew we were hands on, hardworking people. We couldn’t turn away from this property that we both felt a connection to and loved just because it took work. When we looked at the barn, it was very dilapidated and full of junk from storage and the little flee markets Ruby used to have every now and again. Ceiling tiles were falling down and the roof was damaged so there was some extensive water damage to it too. So, when we bought the property the barn needed so much work. It sounded like a cool idea, but a far-fetched dream at the time to get the barn up and going again. We ended up cleaning it up just enough to have our own wedding reception in it, and I fell in love with the barn once I saw what it was capable of. Three years later, my life took a dramatic change and gave me the opportunity and the time to do what I truly love, restoring this beautiful barn and letting the legacy of the generations before me to live on. We have replaced the roof and fixed the water damage. Then I gutted and repainted the whole downstairs, added a changing room, and added some decorations. Their daughter was tickled pink when she heard I had plans on restoring the barn, and comes over to check on it from time to time. Every time she stops in, she tells me that I remind her a lot of her mom, and that her mom is looking down at me and smiling because Ruby loved this barn so much and she knows that I do too. Much must be done to the barn before it is officially up to Indiana state code and allowed to operate as an official reception hall again. This is where you can help preserve and protect this amazing piece of history for our community and all others to enjoy by providing a donation. Any amount you can provide will help. I want you all to join me on my journey, so I will provide monthly emails of our progress. I want to make the barn affordable to rent on any budget by keeping a low overhead. I am also a photographer, ordained minister, and a party coordinator so I can create a lot of synergy within my business as well as helping the community I live in by providing jobs to cater, entertain, or provide services to the guests that rent out the barn. I feel like this is my calling and was meant to be my destiny. So, please support me and join me on my journey to save and preserve history for generations to come and help our small community grow by restoring the Little Red Barn Reception Hall.
Risks and challenges
Funding my project and keeping rental rates affordable is my biggest challenge. We have done a bulk of the renovations on our own, and I have begun the process of filing our project with the county and once it is approved I can move onto filing with the state of Indiana. However, I honestly had no idea what I was getting myself into by starting it as an official reception hall with the county and state. I thought I could fix up a few things and pay my taxes on time and I would be good to go. Wrong. But as they say, what comes easy won't last and what lasts won't come easy. So even though I have opened a can of worms, I know that there is light at the end of the tunnel because when you believe in something you're already half way there. The total estimated cost to fully restore and make the Little Red Barn up to code is about $50,000 - $75,000. Some of the renovations required are outside lighting, landscaping, parking lot, resurfacing downstairs floor, extra staircase for fire emergency, smoke and pull fire alarms, install new septic system, and making the bathroom and at least one stairway handicapped accessible. On top of this I need to hire professionals like engineers, soil scientists, and septic designers to put my project on paper and submit the proper paperwork to the state to even get the okay to do all of the above renovations. Unfortunately, such professionals are not cheap, but they are a necessity for me to move forward. Hiring them will cost me about $10,000. Now, my mother taught me well when discerning my wants and needs, so that is why I have set my goal to $10,000. If I reach my goal, that is awesome because I will allow me to move forward by establishing my business and that is what I really need. If I make more than my goal that will be even better because that will allow me to move forward AND start on my renovations while maintaining a low overhead, keeping prices affordable for guests, and that is what I want. However, if I do not reach my goal I will not give up. I will do whatever it takes to restore the Little Red Barn because this project is bigger than me, and this beautiful piece of history deserves to live on.
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