I'm in Georgia this weekend to officiate a wedding for my lovely niece Kristen, and her intended, Jake. The happy occasion is taking place in the countryside east of Athens at Tucker Plantation, in what used to be a horse barn. It smells much better now.
According to the venue's website, the Smithsonia plantation, begun in the 1860s, was once the largest farm east of the Mississippi. I'm not sure how they determine that: it seems a bit strange that a huge farm would be started in Georgia in the 1860s, either during the Civil War or in its tumultuous aftermath -- but that's the claim.
The original farm produced cotton, corn, and cattle, reportedly had a private railroad, and produced its own bricks through a plant on site. The plantation's landmark buildings are three large brick barns that have seen a variety of uses through the years, mainly for horses.
In the 1980's, country singer Kenny Rogers bought the place and turned one of the barns into a basketball court.
The next owner remodeled the barns and turned them into a wedding/music venue and lodging facilities.
I've been told that he has since died, leaving a huge mortgage on the property, and the bank will soon have its own ideas for repurposing the place.
I always enjoy seeing old things repurposed rather than destroyed: historic downtowns often feature charming restaurants, offices, or apartments that started as filling stations, factory buildings, or hotels. And, the notion of turning old barns into wedding venues is no longer novel.
Seeing old things remodeled, refurbished, and repurposed offers hope for our lives, as well. Sometimes we may feel a bit decrepit or broken down, not as useful or effective as we once were. It's good to know that, with sufficient effort and a little help, we can also rebuild, reform, or revitalize our lives for new purposes.
So long as we can avoid the foreclosure part ...