BY LINDA MARGISON
Driving south of Bloomington one evening in 2015, Anne Lucas and her future husband, Jeff, stopped to check out a retro-looking “farm for sale” sign. “What’s back there?” she remembers wondering, so the two trekked down the secluded driveway that opened up to a big, beautiful field. At the time, Lucas could never have imagined that one day soon they would own the property, be married there, and start a business on the site, which they would name Whippoorwill Hill.
Lucas, 32, says the couple’s original plan was to farm the 124-acre property at 1780 E. Rayletown Road, and someday build a house. But local historians alerted them to the significance of the farm, which dates to 1856. With the buildings in disrepair, Lucas wanted to find a way to financially support restorations to the original house and barn.
Having hosted her own wedding there in October 2016, Lucas found her solution by turning the farm into a wedding and reception venue. “Part of what makes us super excited to share it with other people was it was such a phenomenal place for us to start our lives together,” she says.
Events at Whippoorwill Hill, named for lyrics in country musician Randy Travis’ song “Deeper Than the Holler,” take place in a 125-year-old barn moved there from Shelby County, Indiana. “We didn’t want to do the farm disservice and put up a pole barn,” she says, adding that they wanted “a barn that was old and kind of fit in.” Workers tagged each board, removed the pegs, disassembled the barn, cleaned and treated the wood, dismantled another old barn to replace rotten wood, and reassembled everything on site.
Lucas says the zoning limit of 40 events a year will keep their venue special. She notes, though, that the farm is still a farm. “It’s not going to be prim and proper and perfectly manicured all the time. There are cows there. It still has the farm vibe,” she says. “Our goal is to protect the history on this farm through the income from the event venue. Long term, we would love to share our farm with the community, schools, ag-tourism, and private events.”
Visit whippoorwill-hill.com for more information.