The Barn at Bay Horse Inn
The Making of a Dream Come True
Writer / Suzanne Huntzinger
Photographers / Jennifer Soots Photography & Mitch Jacki
Weddings, ponies, being surrounded by the peace of nature and having your favorite job – it’s the stuff of all little girls’ dreams. Amanda Cottingham dared to dream about it, and now she’s living it.
With the grand opening of The Barn at Bay Horse Inn last month, Amanda experienced the culmination of her dream come true. The event facility is nestled in the middle of seven acres of nature in the heart of the Center Grove area and offers an event room, a saloon, stables and even a log cabin for lodging. The biggest surprise of it all is that it took less than a year to complete.
The opportunity to put the plans in motion happened just last year, but the dream started when Amanda was just a little girl. Amanda’s mom, Debbie Cottingham, explains that when they moved to Greenwood, they lived in a house made of a combination of eight barns. The barns were built in southern Indiana and named The Bay Horse Inn. After their kids grew up, they decided to downsize and bought nine acres of land. Amanda soon bought the adjacent seven acres, then another 13. Eventually, they had 35 acres. Then developers came knocking, wanting to buy some of the land. Debbie told Amanda, “I do not want to leave this property, so figure out something else to do to make money for this property. It wasn’t even 30 days later that Amanda came up with the plans for the event barn.”
Inspiration sometimes happens in the least expected way, and that’s how it happened for Amanda. She says she attended a wedding that was held in a barn out in the middle of nowhere. Amanda was with another friend that night, and the two agreed they loved everything about it. At that moment, Amanda told her friend, “I can do this, and I’ve got the perfect property to do it right in the middle of Center Grove.” From that point, Amanda took the horse by the reins, did lots of research, got the appropriate permits, secured the support of the City of Greenwood and ran with it.
If you’re going to dream, dream big, and Amanda certainly did. She built a grand event barn that seats 425 guests and holds 1,500 people, complete with beautiful wood beams, crystal chandeliers from Restoration Hardware and a floor to ceiling stone fireplace, giving the space a rustic but chic feel. The space opens up to an expansive patio in a picturesque setting surrounded by nature. Next to that is a saloon with seating for up to 60 guests. Since the barn will likely most often be used to host weddings, Amanda has provided for the wedding party’s needs with a luxuriously appointed bride’s room and groom’s room with wet bar.
Amanda didn’t stop there. She created an outdoor area with a pergola that makes a gorgeous setting for weddings. There are also stables for horseback riding, even a cozy log cabin which sleeps up to eight people. “It’s almost like you’re in the middle of Brown County, but you’re in the middle of the city,” Amanda says.
Amanda’s sister, Brandi, an artist in Ft. Worth, Texas, and Member of the Arts Council Board of Directors there, is clearly moved by her sister’s accomplishment. She sees the opening of The Barn as more than just the opening of a business. She shares, “My sister has always been creative. When she was younger, she expressed her creativity in the way that she dressed, and now she expresses it in the way that she puts her business dealings together. I see this barn as a culmination of this moment in Amanda’s life. It’s her imagination come to life. I can only imagine in five to 10 years what she’ll be dreaming and what that expression will be.”
The City of Greenwood will certainly feel the impact of the addition of The Barn at Bay Horse Inn to the business community. President and CEO of the Greater Greenwood Chamber of Commerce, Christian Maslowski, says, “The sheer pace at which you’re seeing new businesses come to Greenwood, the job announcements and the inquiries from companies wanting to locate, expansion plans and venues like The Barn at Bay Horse Inn is just mind-boggling. It really energizes us as a Chamber of Commerce when our job is to help connect people in the business community and advocate for them. It makes our job more rewarding and just gets us excited.”
We’re all excited to have The Barn at Bay Horse Inn as part of the Greenwood community. This magnificent facility will no doubt be a popular destination for some time to come, so if you’re planning the next big event to make your dreams come true, you may want to consider making your reservation well in advance. For more details, go to barnatbayhorse.com.