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Century-old barn gets new life thanks to Oregon woman

Published: Thursday, July 12, 2012 4:54 p.m. CDT • Updated: Thursday, July 12, 2012 4:56 p.m. CDT
Jodi Horner and her family have converted an 1800s dairy barn into Oak Lane, a well-furnished hall for wedding receptions and other special events. Photo by Vinde Wells
A fully stocked bar is just of the amenities that Jodi Horner is offering at Oak Lane, her newly opened reception business. Photo by Vinde Wells
The stone fireplace on the main floor offers a cozy, but spacious gathering area. Photo by Vinde Wells

An Oregon woman is taking the old-fashioned barn dance to a whole new level.

With the help of family and friends, Jodi Horner is converting a more than century-old dairy barn into Oak Lane, the perfect setting for a wedding reception.

"The reception business is something I've wanted to do for a long time," she said. "It's been a dream of mine."

Horner's grandparents Vernon and  and Minnie Burke ran the Phillips 66 gas station in Mt. Morris for many years.

"They're my inspiration," she said with a smile.

When she and her husband Brian recently purchased a farm at 3261 S. Daysville Rd., several dreams started to become realities.

"We got married three years ago and started looking for a place where I could start my business," Horner said. "I wanted a Victorian home and he wanted outbuildings."

The farm, with not one but two Victorian homes, the large barn, and numerous other outbuildings filled the bill.

A previous owner had started remodeling the barn, and since moving in last March Horner has taken the process to completion.

At one end, the downstairs has been converted into a large gathering room with a stone fireplace, comfortable furnishings, large flat screen TV, and a view of the scenic farmscape.

The other end holds a fully-stocked bar, decorated in the rustic style of the surroundings. For example, old wringer washing machines serve as beverage coolers.

The hayloft has been changed into a reception area which will seat 250 guests. The space offers a dry bar and ample room for dancing.

Double glass doors lead out onto a newly completed two-level deck with stairs leading to the ground.

Outside, the farmstead is ideal for wedding photos with a windmill and another large picturesque barn, believed to be one of the oldest in Ogle County.

Horse and carriage rides will also be available.

Horner has already hosted two graduation parties at Oak Lane, and will have her first wedding reception later this month.

Two more wedding receptions are booked for later this year and three for next year.

Horner's family will pitch in with various aspects of the business.

Brian is a former deejay and bartender and will offer those services to clients, and her daughter is learning cake decorating.

"We hope to offer catering within a year," Horner said.

Besides wedding receptions, Horner said she hopes to host banquets, reunions, family and business parties, and other special events.

"We can do a lot of different things here with the space we have," she said.

An open house will be held at Oak Lane on Saturday, July 21 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

To get there from Oregon, take Ill. 64 east across the river to the stop light and turn right onto South Daysville Road. Continue south for approximately three miles and Oak Lane is on the east (left) side of the road.

For more information visit the website at oaklaneoforegon.com.

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