Years ago, Jarett Doernemann told his wife, Kathy, he desired to buy an old barn that he could use for storage.
“I like old barns,” he said. “I just like the style of them. There was one I found and I thought, ‘this one is in pretty good shape.’”
The problem was the one he wanted was in Leigh and not for sale. But Doernemann spent significant time convincing the woman who owned it to sell it to him, and finally, in 2013, she gave in.
“He wanted this old barn to fix up and she finally sold it to him,” Kathy said. “That barn had been there forever.”
Moving it to Clarkson wasn’t exactly easy, but it was only half the battle. Jarett said the building was in the kind of condition one would expect to find such a structure from the early 1900s.
“There were 2 feet of hay and pigeon (poop) in the upstairs loft,” Jarett recalled. “There were spider webs. We had to get all of that out of there. It was a 50- or 60-year-old barn, so that’s what you get. We power washed the whole thing from top to bottom.”
The plan was for Jarett to fix it up so they could use it for storage, such as for their camper. Ask Kathy today and she can still tell you where the camper was planned to go. It may end up there eventually; however, a conversation with some pals in 2013 gave Jarett new ambition.
“We were supposed to get a storage shed out of it, but we got a lot more out of it,” Jarett said, with a laugh. “We built a fireplace in there and that sort of changed everything.”
Jarett, along with numerous friends who are area contractors, turned what was once envisioned as only a storage shed into a near-5,000-square-foot event center that can seat up to 225 people, according to Kathy. It was the culmination of nearly two years’ worth of work and proof it paid off when the venue served as the site for their son and daughter-in-law’s wedding reception in 2015.
Since then, “The Barn,” as it affectionately is referred to by the owners and area residents, has become a hub for community gatherings and other special events.
“We’ve had weddings, bridal showers, birthdays, graduations, a little bit of everything,” Kathy said. “Everybody seems to like it.”
Most wedding requests are from people out of the Norfolk or Columbus areas, however, Kathy said word of mouth has spread as far as the East and West coasts.
“We had a couple from California that got married here this summer,” Kathy said.
For the Doernemanns, the idea of folks seeking out their barn remains odd. Doernemann Construction Inc. remains their No. 1 business, as the venue was never meant to even become the second one. It just sort of morphed into it, they noted.
“We don’t advertise,” Kathy said. “We’re not in this for the money. It’s just a place for people to enjoy. We don’t care if it’s rented or not.”
The couple hosts two or three events per month because of the interest, however, are making a point not to go overboard because it requires a lot of work to host parties.
The venue itself is immaculate. Its floor has both colored wood and concrete. The lower level features a bar area and a dance floor, while the upstairs boasts plenty more seating. The centerpiece, though, without a doubt is the fireplace that can be utilized on both levels.
“I never had a blueprint on it, never had a design,” Jarrett said. “I would come home from work, had an idea and told contractor and he would see what we could do.”
Although The Barn took a lot of work, the Doernemanns still say it was well worth it. For the last several years, it has been the site of an annual fundraiser for the Columbus Cancer Care Foundation. Earlier this summer, the fundraiser held at The Barn raised about $20,000, as previously reported by the Schuyler Sun.
The couple has also put it to good personal use. Kathy said they’ve hosted a family Christmas in there before, in which family members put sleeping bags on the first-level floor and watched holiday movies and eventually opened up presents.
Looking closely, one can find clues of the original barn inside. There are pictures on a wall near the entry that document the structure’s move to its Clarkson location – the frames are windows from the old barn, Kathy said. Some of the wood from the original barn is also prominently featured if one looks closely.
As Kathy made her way through The Barn on a recent morning, she still seemed to think of it all as a bit surreal.
“He just likes old barns,” she said, with a smile. “He had his eye on this one. That’s how this all started.”
Those interested in renting The Barn can call 402-892-3244. It is at 570 Ave. in Clarkson.
Matt Lindberg is the managing editor of the Schuyler Sun. Reach him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.