Hospitality Repurposed: From Barns To Beds
June 2, 2016|
By Katie Allie
An old red barn with an open hay loft—this familiar image is practically a West Virginia icon. Driving through the picturesque countryside of the Mountain State, what appears to be a well-kept barn may actually be more than meets the eye. Throughout the state, entrepreneurial souls have given new life to old barns and buildings, turning them into unique overnight accommodations. Under these refurbished roofs, guests can find a romantic slice of pastoral life, luxurious amenities and a space to recharge with friends and family.
Barn With Inn
Harry Sanford and Chatman Neely, owners of Highland Springs Farm and the Barn With Inn in the Northern Panhandle, never intended to be innkeepers. Yet, in 2003 they had the opportunity to purchase a 175-year-old log home, along with the circa 1980s barn next door, and fell in love with the lifestyle. Their mutual interests of hosting, gardening, cooking and animal care led them down a path of slowly developing and upgrading the property to its present state. Today, 34 acres, 45 animals and at least 200 guests later, they find themselves a fully operational farm and bed and breakfast.
There are three options for a stay at the Barn With Inn. The first is the Farm House Room, located in the main house where Sanford and Neely live. It features two twin beds and a shared bathroom down the hall with all the comforts of home.
In the renovated barn, guests have their choice between the Barn Loft or Barn Stall rooms. The Barn Loft is a larger space, formerly used to store hay, that houses a queen-size bed. There is a seating area inside and a small porch overlooking the butterfly garden. The Barn Stall is a smaller room that was formerly—you guessed it—a horse stall. You would never know it, though, as it features its own porch and comfortable furnishings, including the queen-size bed’s headboard, made out of 150-year-old barn wood.
Perhaps the most unique feature is that the barn is still functional—only part of the structure was made into rooms for accommodations, leaving the other part to the animals who share the property. You needn’t worry if the full barn experience isn’t for you, though: you’re completely sealed off with weather-tight windows and screens keeping you from getting too personal with the four-legged residents.
Additionally, Highland Springs Farm offers walking paths, a heated in-ground saltwater pool and a fishing pond, as well as locally sourced and West Virginia-made products, such as Fiesta dinnerware and the farm’s own eggs and produce. Guests also have the opportunity to meet the four-legged locals—including donkeys, goats, miniature horses, sheep and pot-bellied pigs—that live on the property, many of which are rescues.
If you’re looking for a place to hold your next event, they have you covered. Highland Springs Farm is available for dinners, business meetings, luncheons, planning retreats, holiday parties and small weddings, from rehearsal dinner to reception.
Lost River Barn
Even though it straddles a ridge just barely within West Virginia’s borders, “Somehow it feels all West Virginia,” says Jay Moglia, Washington, D.C., resident and owner of Raw Talent Ranch where Lost River Barn sits.
Built in the late 1930s from chestnut oak wood milled on top of the mountain, the property was a working cattle farm up until about 15 years before it was purchased by Moglia and his partner, Audrey Taucher. Back then, the barn structure’s interior had been framed out like a house with the intention of making the space residential, but construction had never been finished. Moglia and Taucher completed the home, and 10 years ago they began welcoming guests of all kinds to Lost River Barn.
The barn, capable of hosting big groups, features a large, three-room living and dining space; five bedrooms; three and a half bathrooms and six additional pull-out beds. Groups are something Lost River Barn has come to specialize in, especially those interested in cycling and music. The partners have hosted many cyclists over the years, with the hills that roll from West Virginia to Virginia lending a particular draw to the property. They are also no strangers to musicians and performers, some of whom have used the barn to record in.
You don’t need to be part of a group or workshop to rent the barn, though—families and groups of friends are welcome too. If you tire of the gorgeous scenery just off the back deck, Lost River State Park is only six miles away, and a day trip to Dolly Sods Wilderness is also a possibility.
The Barn Loft
Swinging your legs through the open window of a barn in the West Virginia countryside is an essential summertime experience. Now, imagine having the chance to do that after a day spent exploring the New River Gorge—and sleeping in the barn loft too. When Holly Clark, owner of The Barn Loft in Fayetteville, bought her house, she realized the old barn located on the property was a gem with hidden potential. According to Clark, the barn is just as historically significant as the 115-year-old house.
In 2011, Clark began renting out the barn to both locals and out-of-state visitors, all of whom appreciated the unique ambiance. Since then, roughly 600 guests have spent time enjoying the space. “The Barn Loft offers a rustic yet romantic experience that is a happy medium between staying on the ground in a tent and staying in a cabin,” she says.
Staying at The Barn Loft is a seasonal experience: a fan is provided, but there is no heating. As a result, the barn opens in the spring when things warm up and closes on Bridge Day, the third weekend in October.
The barn features atmospheric string lights; an improvised canopy bed; ample seating for meals, writing and lounging and even Wi-Fi. Breakfast is available on the weekends in the main house for a small charge. Just outside, there’s space to relax or enjoy the porch swing, all within walking distance of downtown Fayetteville.