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Old Granary Converted Into On-Farm Destination
Though it took them 3 years, hundreds of hours, and help from family, friends and neighbors, Joe and Virginia Hennessey finally completed the renovation of their 100-year-old farm granary, turning it into a spacious and rustic venue for a variety of events on their Wisconsin farm.
“When we told people our plans for the building, they thought we were crazy,” Virginia recalls. “The roof was full of holes, the doors didn’t work, the wood bins smelled like moldy grain, and the floor was so uneven it was difficult to walk on.”
“The basic structure was solid, so we spent the better part of a year just cleaning it out, taking bins apart, and making plans for how it might look as a nice party venue,” Virginia says. They fixed the foundation, removing the walls between two bins to create a main gathering room on one side of the building and turning two bins on the opposite side into separate sitting rooms. Openings were cut in the wood walls with the lumber used to make sliding doors that now ride on barn door hardware. Windows were added to provide natural light into each room that’s decorated with rustic furniture and unique wall artwork.
“The building was comfortable for 30 or 40 people, and we expanded it by adding a pergola and seating area outside the entrance,” Virginia says. “It’s a comfortable venue for class reunions, graduations, family reunions, and other gatherings.”
Visitors to the farm can also step into another piece of history nearby. The 120-year-old summer kitchen across the driveway from the granary houses Virginia’s bakery, where she crafts more than 25 flavors of bread, brownies, and cinnamon and caramel rolls that she sells on the farm. The preparation room is updated with foodservice quality stainless fixtures, but the baking room still has the sturdy and elegant high wood beamed ceiling that the original settlers crafted without the use of power tools. “It was built to last an eternity, and we’re proud to keep it in original condition,” Virginia says.
Baking something every few days for 9 mos. of the year and holding classes for people who want to learn the art of breadmaking keeps Virginia busy. Still, over the years she and Joe added new features to their farm. They moved three old wire ear corn cribs to their yard and turned them into gazebo seating areas. A new building adjacent to the granary houses a walk-in freezer that holds frozen baked goods and ice cream. Local wines are also available in Virginia’s country store.
“We truly enjoy it, but after all these years it’s time to slow down.”
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Virginia Hennessey, 11658 Hwy 70, Grantsburg, Wis. 54840.

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2022 - Volume #46, Issue #5