“It kind of started last year when one of my sons was interested in having a wedding reception on our property,” said Laura Matthews.
Alex Matthews and his fiancée were thinking about having an October wedding and wanted to have the reception in the back yard of the family property just north of Denison on Ridge Road.
Laura said she wasn’t confident about how well an outside reception would turn out at that time of year.
“What if we had it in the big barn?” she asked.
The family owns a large 20-stall barn with an indoor arena.
The rest of the family agreed that having the reception in the barn was a pretty good idea, she said.
Laura thought fixing up the barn might involve pouring concrete on the dirt floor and power-washing the rest of the barn.
The prospects of being able to fix up the barn for a relatively small expense evaporated when two different contractors told her that the barn needed a new roof.
“Of course it’s a huge barn and when we looked at the price of a new roof, it was pretty expensive,” she said. “That got me thinking. If we want to use it for a wedding reception, maybe other people would want to, too.”
Laura said she decided she wouldn’t feel crazy spending money on the roof if the barn could be turned into a venue that other people could use.
And so the Stables at Copper Ridge project was born.
The barn is a special place for the Matthews family, Laura said.
She and her husband, Dr. Paul Matthews, bought the property and the barn in 1998.
“The barn was special to us because we didn’t live here for a little over a year after we bought the property,” she said. “We spent that whole first winter in that barn every night.”
The family visited their pregnant mare, had family time and the kids played on a tire swing in the barn.
Their new home, just north of the barn, was completed in 2000.
The Matthews sold the property in 2007 when they moved away and then bought it back when they returned in 2014.
Paul passed away in February of 2015.
Laura said the family’s connection to the barn was why she didn’t want to let it go.
Once she decided to move forward with the project, she brought in professional help.
Jared Muhlbauer, of Muhlbauer Enterprises, Manilla, is the general contractor.
Krohnke Construction, of Schleswig, has done the majority of the outside, which has included smoothing out the hills on the property to make way for a parking lot and adding drainage.
Laura said she is making an effort to use as many local people as possible on the project.
Chad’s Plumbing & Welding, Charter Oak, Sebern Construction, Manilla, Granzen Plumbing & Heating, Denison, Heiden Concrete, Schleswig, and Crossgrain Woodworking, Denison, have all been brought in on the project.
So far, most of the work accomplished has been on the outside areas of the property.
“The barn itself doesn’t look much different right now, except for the new roof,” she said.
The floor is still just bare dirt and the building is still open to the outside.
Work on the barn will begin in earnest this week or next.
New exterior metal siding and windows will be added to the barn.
“We’re hoping to have it completely enclosed by winter so they can work over the winter inside,” Laura said.
The inside beams, which are cedar, will be left exposed.
“They will all be pressure sprayed and we’ll bring them back to their natural cedar color,” she said.
New wood used in the project will be given a face or stained to match the cedar.
When the project is complete, the barn will have a full kitchen, men’s and women’s bathrooms, and an open area for tables, chairs or whatever else is needed for an event.
“It will be fully heated and cooled. It can be completely enclosed or we can whip up the big garage door and open all the windows if people want more of an outdoor feel,” she said.
A small stage, complete with a sound system, projectors and screens, will eventually be added.
Two outdoor areas will be available; one will be a grassy area where chairs can be set up for an outdoor wedding, the other will be a bricked in area with a fireplace or fire pit and possibly a water fountain.
The rear side of the barn, facing Ridge Road, will have a large window that will feature something with special meaning to the family.
Laura and Paul purchased a stained glass window from the old St. Rose of Lima Church before it was torn down.
When the family moved away from Denison in 2007, they stored the window at Jim’s Repair and Welding, in Denison.
The stained glass window will be sandwiched between panes of glass in the large window.
“That will be one of the coolest features,” she said.
People will be able to take alcohol to the barn for an event, but Laura does not plan to acquire an alcohol license right away.
She said she has heard from people interested in using the barn for graduations, weddings, receptions and Christmas parties.
Local musicians could use the stage for a concert or a party wanting to watch a big game could use the projector screens.
“The sky’s the limit,” she said.
The barn has been scheduled for a wedding next May, but Laura said she does not expect all the work to be done by then.
She does not have a firm date for completion of the project, but expects it to be done sometime before fall 2017.
“If anybody had anything sooner than that, they’d have to understand that there is a good possibility that not everything will be done,” she said.
Paul loved to have company and to have his family visit for Thanksgiving and other special occasions, Laura said.
“He loved having people over and I thought this would be a special way to remember him and to remind our kids that this is what life is about: being with others and sharing special events with others,” she said.