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Hosting weddings and history at Settlement Hill Farm

Evonne and Michael Ganz have transformed their 1854 barn into a rustic wedding venue, which allows them to preserve the historical structure. Submitted photo

The barn at Settlement Hill Farm has seen a lot since the structure was first built in 1854, and now it's the scene of some people's happiest memories.

Evonne and Michael Ganz have transformed the space into a wedding venue that will host ceremonies and receptions once a week through the summer season, May into October.

The Ganz's own daughter, one of twins, was the first to get married in the barn years ago, after it had initially been redone for a church dance.

"I'd always teased them when they were growing up that they were going to get married in the barn," Evonne Ganz said.

Turns out, her twin daughters aren't the only ones. At the time Evonne Ganz didn't realize that rustic barn weddings were becoming a trend, but soon other brides-to-be were asking about the venue.

At the time, the state and county were still catching up on the barn uses and possible regulations, and the Ganzes were working with them. They experienced a setback when Michael Ganz was diagnosed with cancer. They continued hosting for family and friends, Evonne Ganz said.

Now with a conditional use permit from the town of Troy and following regulations from the state, the venue will be operating for anyone again.

A dairy farmer's daughter, Evonne Ganz loves seeing people come out to the country, relax and celebrate. From people who have never been in a barn before, to old farmers who are amazed at how well its kept, Evonne Ganz enjoys seeing them all experience it.

Ceremonies are held in the apple orchard or up in the loft, and the cocktails and reception are held on the main level of the barn.

Food and alcohol are done by outside caterers, and Evonne Ganz said some guests rely on local businesses for not only that aspect, but hair and makeup, photography, lodging and other needs.

Keeping the barn standing is the most important aspect for Evonne Ganz. In the mile radius around their property, she knows of four barns that have collapsed.

"Without them getting used, they're falling down," she said.

The wedding business gives the Ganzes the financial resources to keep the barn in good, standing shape, something that isn't cheap, Evonne Ganz said.

"We hope the community uses it to help preserve it," she said.

Evonne Ganz said she's glad the town of Troy is supporting efforts to preserve these historical barns, and hopes other townships and the county follows suit.

The barn, which was a part of the German settlement, still has features from its original building in 1854, though a fire destroyed much of it in the 1920s.

"Our big thing is to keep this looking like the farmstead it is," Evonne Ganz said. "We don't want it looking like a venue."

Rebecca Mariscal

Rebecca Mariscal joined the Hudson Star Observer as a reporter in 2016. She graduated from the University of St. Thomas with a degree in communication and journalism. 

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