By Donna Thompson
Couples looking for a unique venue for their wedding now have a new local option.
The Stone Barn at Beardslee Farm is a 19th-century barn that has been transformed to host weddings and other special events and is currently taking bookings.
“We’re really just getting started,” said Colleen Chlus who, with her husband, Andy, and family cleaned out, refurbished, and furnished what had been a hay barn on the family farm at 124 Snells Bush Road, Little Falls, to serve as a wedding and event venue.
In fact, Colleen and Andy Chlus used the space for their own wedding.
They were married last September on Labor Day weekend. “It was 75 degrees and sunny. It was a great time,” she said.
There was still work to be done on the barn, however, so that wedding and a family gathering have been the only events held there so far.
That’s about to change, however, with bookings already coming in for the season, which runs from May through the end of October. “We’ve got a good amount for this year and we’re already booking into 2023,” said Colleen Chlus.
The first event of the season won’t be a wedding, however.
“We’re hosting the Little Falls prom in May. That will be our kickoff,” she said, adding that she has met with members of the committee and plans are underway.
The biggest draw will likely be weddings. Repurposed barns have become popular wedding venues. “This is another option,” she said. The venue can accommodate up to 300 people.
A couple booking their wedding at the Stone Barn at Beardslee Farm can plan to invite their guests to their ceremony and reception at one location. A bar will also be available with tables providing a cocktail area. The business has applied for a liquor license and that process is currently in progress, said Chlus.
Turning a barn on the family farm that Andy Chlus and his brother Alan operate into an event venue has not been quick or easy. The family started the work in 2020, but the project was slowed somewhat by the COVID-19 pandemic and carpenters were finishing work on a hallway when a reporter visited recently for a tour.
“This was full of hay,” said Chlus, pointing to the wide-open areas that now provide spaces furnished for wedding ceremonies and receptions. “It was a big clean out project.” Once the hay was removed – the farm’s livestock got the benefit – there was a lot of sweeping to be done.
Then there was the matter of adding amenities, including restrooms for guests with a baby changing table and separate changing rooms for the bride and bridegroom and their attendants to prepare for their special day. They also added a serving kitchen, complete with refrigeration, for caterers to use and a bar.
An antique wall telephone actually provides a place to charge cell phones, Chlus explained.
One positive aspect of the slowed pace of the work was that it gave the family time to look around for the furnishings they needed.
They didn’t have to look far for some items. The rustic arch that provides a focal point for the wedding ceremony was made from barn timbers, while the barn’s existing overhead beams give the space a cathedral-like appearance.
There was an effort to use reclaimed wood and other items wherever possible, said Chlus.
They found pews from a church in Johnstown on Facebook and took a drive into the Adirondack Park to purchase the large chandelier for the wedding space after hearing at a local store that someone had one for sale.
Online searches turned up other items, such as the round tables in the reception area that were made by a family-owned company in Wisconsin.
The farm theme is evident in the bridegroom’s dressing room where there are stools featuring tractor-style seats and hooks on the wall that came from a barn cleaner chain. The bride’s dressing area, which provides seating and mirrors to check hair and makeup, has a more feminine look.
“We want everything to go smoothly,” said Chlus.
Each of the dressing rooms has its own bathroom in addition to the restrooms available for guests.
This barn has a unique history.
The foundation dates back to the 1800s when the Beardslee family built it, she said, while the upper part was added in the 1970s. When the family looked into the history of the structure they learned that it was the first barn to have electricity and noted that power is still produced by the Beardslee Dam at the nearby Beardslee Reservoir.
Guy Roosevelt Beardslee (1856-1939), son of Augustus Beardslee (1801-1873), who built Beardslee Castle, now a restaurant and banquet facility, initially developed power from East Creek to mechanize the family farm, according to an article on wikitree.com. Two engineers who had paid him $40,000 in return for an option to develop power at the creek could not raise enough capital for the project, so Beardslee took it on himself with the help of John Cairns. He accomplished his original purpose and, realizing the potential, contracted with several local farms to purchase the surplus power. Later he added customers in St. Johnsville, Fort Plain, Nelliston, and Canajoharie, creating the first rural electric power operation in the country. In 1911, Beardslee sold the business to Adirondack Power and Light, which later became Niagara Mohawk.
Bookings for weddings and events at the Stone Barn at Beardslee Farm are being handled via email. Those interested can contact the venue by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. There is also a Facebook page for anyone who wants to know more.