WHITE HALL — A farmhouse-style barn under construction on Lanham Lane could become one of the region’s most unique event venues after it’s completed in about six weeks.
Already booked for weddings, showers, and corporate retreats throughout the fall and into next year, the Barn at Stone House Lavender will accommodate up to 175 people indoors and sits adjacent to the field of lavender from which it gets its name.
“We were thinking about what could complement the lavender itself, and we found there aren’t a lot of event venues in the area. So, we decided in the midst of a pandemic to take the plunge and build something that requires social gatherings,” said Mit Abbott, one of the venue’s four owners, all of them family.
In the current era of mandated social-distancing measures, the Barn is large enough for folks to spread out safely and comfortably. The venue has 5,680 square feet of space, is climate-controlled, and offers amenities such as a 400 square feet bridal suite, a large groom’s man cave, a catering and food preparation area and three restrooms.
“One of the most exciting things in regards to our venue is getting to be part of someone’s special day,” said Cheryl Weaver, another owner. “We want to make it as stress-free and enjoyable for them as possible.”
Construction of the barn began in mid-May. When complete, the facility will also feature Stone House Lavender’s retail outlet, which sells an array of lavender-infused products made on site.
“This area of West Virginia certainly needs a new destination like the one they’re building, a place that can accommodate gathering of all types and while incorporating the natural beauty of its surroundings,” said Susan Douglas, a professional events planner in Morgantown.
If early bookings are any indication, the venue is already being well-received. It will host its first wedding in October this year and 22 more weddings are already booked for 2021.
“A wedding ceremony, for instance, can be conducted on the outdoor patio overlooking the lavender field. When the lavender isn’t in bloom, we’ll accent the farm and the field. It just seems to feel like a natural fit,” said Abbott.
The new events venue, as well as Stone House Lavender, which opened in 2017, is a family affair. Abbott and her brother, Mark Weaver, grew up and still reside on the property on which both projects sit. They’re owners with their respective spouses, Mit’s husband, J.L. Abbott, and Mark’s wife, Cheryl Weaver.
“All four of us are deeply involved. This is our empty-nest syndrome. All our children are either in college or have graduated. This is the next phase of our lives,” said Mit Abbott.
All four partners remain employed with day jobs.
“This is a side hustle for all of us. That’s why it takes all four,” said Abbott.
Both the events venue and the lavender company are named for the stone house that greets visitors to the property.
“We’re the seventh generation to own the stone house. It was built in 1850 and handed down through the family ever since then. My kids were the eighth generation to live in the house. It’s definitely got some family heritage to it,” said Abbott, whose step-brother resides in the house today.
Adjacent is a spring house, with an active spring still flowing below. The spring house currently serves as the company’s retail outlet, where an array of lavender goods are sold.
“Lavender is known as the Swiss Army Knife of herbs. It has a lot of healing properties. It’s relaxing. It’s an anti-inflammatory. It’s bug and deer resistant. It helps with depression. The oils in the plants provide a lot of beneficial properties,” said Abbott.
There are 47 known species of the genus Lavandula, more commonly called lavender, which are flowering plants in the mint family. The plants can be used as culinary herbs, essential oils, cosmetics, and for ornamental purposes.
“There is culinary tea you can drink growing in the top row of the lavender field here, but most of it is used for fragrances and oils,” said Abbott.
In June and July each year, when the crop is at its peak and ready for harvesting, Stone House Lavender opens the field for “u-pick” days, where for a small fee the public may visit and pick lavender bundles from 1,000 blossoming plants.
“We’re hoping a second bloom will come on in a few weeks. When it does, people can come back and start picking again,” Abbott said.
On Wednesdays at 7 p.m. during warm weather months, yoga classes are conducted in the lavender fields.
“We had originally intended to just plant the field and sell the product wholesale, but we found there’s a need in this area for agritourism,” said Abbott. “Lavender is definitely a draw.”