VARINA — Nancy Kelly has the privilege of working in her grandfather’s barn on a daily basis.
Kelly, who partners with Dick Farrell, owns and operates “Grandpa’s Barn” in the town of Varina in Pocahontas County, where they have done extensive repair to the structure, turning it into a event center for just about any event from baby and bridal showers, class and family reunions to weddings. It is also a place for a monthly bingo game, community breakfasts and even morning coffee
Grandpa’s Barn, Farrell feels, creates a place for camaraderie
“A lot of that has disappeared in our world,” he said. “To me it’s a step backwards, take a break and enjoy each other’s company for a couple of hours.”
In addition to the event center, the barn is also the centerpiece for their farmers market and vineyard. Kelly and Farrell raise vegetables in their outside garden and tunnel that are on the premises and open up part of the barn for their market.
The barn was built in the late 1930s by Kelly’s grandparents, Edward “Joe” Kelly and Hazel Kelly, mainly for the family’s horses, milk cows and hay storage.
The barn is 52 feet long by 34 feet wide and is 33 feet tall up to the peak.
“I know all of this because of moving it,” said Farrell.
The barn was moved from where it stood, one mile east of Varina. But it wasn’t the barn’s first move.
After the Kelly family sold the farm, Dick Farrell’s brother, Craig Farrell, bought the barn and moved it across the section to set it up on their family’s farm.
“My brother raised hogs in it for years,” said Farrell. “He had quit farming and once our mother passed away, the farm was sold. The new owners took the grove out, which put the barn out in the middle of a corn field and they farmed around it for five or six years.”
The owner of the barn, Kelly said offered her the barn for free — all that Kelly needed to do was move it.
“At that time, I was looking to do a vegetable farm and I was just wanting a little building and he (Farrell) came to me and said ‘I can get your grandpa’s barn,'” she said.
With the assistance of Vote House Moving, of Bradgate, the barn has been at its new home in Varina for a few years now on a parcel of land that belonged to Kelly’s family.
“I think this is awesome,” said Kelly. “The day it moved in, I had two sisters here. My dad had just passed away. It was an emotional time. I got my dad’s land and my grandpa’s barn and I am taking care of it for them. It does mean a lot to me.”
“For me, personally, I just think way too many farm places are being taken down for the sake of farming another acre — there’s been so many of them,” said Farrell. “I drive around and in my mind’s eye, I can remember a lot of them.”
The barn was in very good shape before it was moved. But in order to make it an event center, Kelly and Farrell have, and continue to spruce it up.
Currently, they are working on both the exterior and the haymow, as the lower level has been completed. They use repurposed lumber and other items from other barns and corn cribs in the area in doing so.
“We are trying to preserve the history of some of the other farm places that have now disappeared,” said Farrell.
The barn is complete with a kitchen/bar area; restrooms downstair,s with more being installed in the haymow; seating areas and more.