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Old barn gets new life as event venue

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By Jamie Baker-Nantz

When Brooke Rider looked for a place to hold a wedding reception in 2012, her options were limited.

She ultimately decided to hold the event close to home, literally her home in the historic Hogan House, and let guests enjoy the lush lawn and property that she and her husband, Mark Cummins enjoy every day.

But a seed was planted and it grew to a complete renovation of the historic barn on the property that will be used as an event venue.
The aging wooden structure needed some love and that’s what the Cummins, as well as a small army of contractors they hired, began in July.

The end result, is “The Josephina,” a two-story facility that seats 280 in 4,000 square feet of space. A kitchen and bathrooms, along with distinctive touches like crystal chandeliers, a patio, burlap curtains and an arch made from old doors.

“I like to restore things,” Cummins said. “I guess that’s why I enjoy living at the Hogan House.”

Cummins first lived in the picturesque two-story white frame home in 1993 when her parents bought it and the farm from Josephine Hogan.

After some minor updating, the family lived there until 2000.

The home, which was in the Hogan family for many decades, was vacant until 2005, when the Grant County News relocated from Williamstown to Dry Ridge and took up residence in an addition and in the first floor of the home, which was built in 1840.

Cummins returned to the home in 2011 and it is her primary residence, with the structure retaining much of its character.

When she’s not working at the Josephina, Cummins oversees the Arbors Apartments and Arbors Center, an office and retail center, which her family owns.

Turning the 1940s barn into an event venue began in December 2012 with the permitting process and meetings with structural engineers and architects.
“We collaborated to keep it as close to a barn as possible but with modern upgrades,” Cummins said.

The windows are original, but wood had to be added to the bottom floor to support the new second story level and wrought iron staircases. Brick foundations make up the base of the support beams and have been topped with round wooden tables turning them into additional seating.

“It was important to me to keep it as rustic as possible, but add elegant touches,” Cummins said. “I wanted you to be able to look around and always find something interesting to look at.”

The entire roof was also replaced. Heating and air conditioning will be added soon.
A small building that mimics the architecture of the barn has also been constructed. It was serve as the bridal suite, where the bride and bridal party can get ready.
But any resemblance to a barn ends when the doors open to the petite building that features a private dressing area, a floor to ceiling mirror, makeup tables and mirrors and a couch and chairs.

Other additions, including groom’s quarters, are in the works.

To date, the facility has hosted a couple of private parties, but several wedding showers and a Halloween party have been booked.

“We’ve had a couple of charities inquire about renting it for a silent auction, as well as some other fundraising events,” Cummins said. “It could be home to dances and concerts. There are just so many possibilities.”

The rental fee, according to Cummins, depends on the time of year, day of the week and amount of time rented.

Work on the structure has created a buzz with many posturing as to what it would be used for, but the public’s curiosity can be put to rest on Friday, Oct. 11 when an open house is planned for noon to 8 p.m. Local florists and caterers will also set up displays during the open house.

“We want this to be something that benefits the community,” she said. “We’ve already got an out-of-state wedding booked next year, which means people staying at local hotels and eating at local restaurants.”