Look Inside: Matilda's Event Barn
Posted on February 8, 2021 Nestled in a peaceful country setting is Spencer County’s newest event venue: Matilda’s Event Barn. Offering indoor and outdoor celebration spaces for weddings and other events, the venue guarantees picture-perfect memories!
A scenic hilltop provides a stunning locale for a summer ceremony, while the rustic-elegant event barn can comfortably accommodate 225-250 guests. An onsite fully restored 1900’s farmhouse is available to rent. And during the summer, guests can swim in the four-acre lake.
Q&A with Jane Schipp, Owner of Matilda's Event Barn
Jane Schipp is the owner and driving force of Matilda’s Event Barn. With support from her husband John and four daughters, she has turned her family’s farm into a truly unique place to celebrate life’s most important occasions!
When did you open/host your first event?
Jane: We had our first “official” event on August 1, 2020. Unofficially, we held the wedding of our daughter's best friend (who is like our 5th daughter!) at the farm in September 2019. Though we had tossed around the idea of opening a wedding venue for years, her request was the push behind the decision to go forward with it. We would probably still be “discussing” it had she not asked to have her wedding there!
How did you get into the wedding venue business?
Jane: My husband John and I are both in love with old homes and buildings. We love to travel and have spent a lot of time in Europe, nearly every year for the past 15 years. He is a wonderful travel planner and always finds the greatest old historic hotels and B&B's to stay at.
My parents owned the farm when I was a teenager, only to sell it to my uncle when my father died suddenly in 1977. We purchased the farm from my uncle's estate in 2005 with the intention of restoring the house and all of the outbuildings back to their original glory.
The house was finished in 2008 and we then went on to restore the old granary, which became John's office and houses a portion of his book collection (he is a huge history buff!). The old barn was very tattered, but the beam structure was great inside, so the decision was made to restore rather than rebuild. A new foundation was installed and wood was purchased for the siding when a tornado decided to dismantle it. It was quite heartbreaking and left a huge, gaping hole in the landscape—the farm no longer seemed like a farm.
In 2017 we decided to rebuild a near-exact replica of the old barn, not knowing what we would do with it, if anything. I had drawn up the plans to include plumbing that could easily be utilized for a house or, as it turned out, an event barn. Primarily, John needed a place to go with his books which had overtaken our basement, so we knew part of the barn would be a library. The rest was uncertain.
Three years later, we were on our way to opening Matilda's!
What events, besides weddings, do you host?
Jane: Obviously, weddings are our main events. We are sold out nearly every weekend in 2021 with almost half of 2022 booked. We’ve tried to keep some dates open for our family get-togethers and have a couple fundraisers on the schedule for non-profit organizations in the area.
We are looking at a variety of ways to utilize the space. I love to toss around new ideas and collaborate with others in the county when we can. Obviously, the pandemic has kept us from doing many public events; it's just not worth all of the work of planning with the virus uncertainty these days. We are looking at doing some weekday events—classes, concerts, bridal shows, etc. We’ve tossed around so many ideas, but until we're on a surer path forward, we're taking it slow.
What is your favorite/most unusual event that you've hosted at Matilda’s?
Jane: We have a Relay for Life fundraiser coming up in April (COVID-willing). It’s a casino night, and though I'm not a gambler, I think it sounds like fun. We also have a Star Wars-themed wedding later in the year that should be fun to see how it is pulled together.
Each wedding is actually quite interesting, just seeing the various styles and decor and how each couple makes the barn into their own dream wedding. I very much enjoy that aspect of owning an event barn.
Lastly, my daughter is getting married on New Year's Eve this year. Our minds have been reeling with ideas for her wedding!
What's your favorite thing about the work you do?
Jane: I really enjoy meeting people. It's very interesting to sit with the couples, work through their ideas, and try to help where I can. In general, I'm just their “landlord,” making sure the property looks great and everything flows properly. But if they want my help and opinions, I'm always there to assist with whatever they might need. There's nothing worse for me than to see a bride stressing. I try to relieve that stress when I am able!
What's the story behind Matilda's?
Jane: My great-great grandparents settled on the original 80 acres that we own today back in 1863 (it was expanded to 250 acres at one point, but we bought back only the original 80). My great-aunt Matilda was born there in 1901. At the age of 3, she contracted meningitis and was left with such a stutter, she was virtually unable to communicate. They also felt she was left mentally disabled and so she never attended school. However, she was quite bright.
After my great-grandmother passed away, the farm was willed to my great-uncle Joe, and he was to "care for Matilda" there (as was stated in the will). Though Uncle Joe watched over her, Matilda didn't need so much caring. She kept the house spotless, fixed meals, fed the animals, and worked right alongside my Uncle Joe. She was so tiny—maybe 5'2" and 100 pounds—but she was mighty!
I remember going out to the farm quite often as a little girl. Matilda would try to talk to us but was hard to understand. Quite often she would sit off by herself, not able to engage in the conversation, but always listening. She was such a sweet lady who was never the center of attention, never had a real friend (other than family), but was so steadfast in her love of the farm and the farm animals. It was not a hard decision to honor her in naming our place "Matilda's"!
How was the design/style/look of Matilda’s created?
Jane: At heart, I've always loved decorating and, maybe even more so, construction. The building design and decor ideas were primarily mine, but I have 4 daughters who are all very creative and interested in design and construction.
Getting four people to agree on decisions that needed to be made could be quite overwhelming. I soon realized if I needed another opinion, I would call up the daughter most likely to agree with me on whatever matter was in question. Things moved along much quicker after that!
Our girls have just been a tremendous help throughout the entire process (and still are). Though I'm sure if they never pick up another paint brush again, they'll be quite happy!
I would be remiss if I didn’t also mention Frank Gogel of Gogel Construction. He has been beside me on every project at the farm since Day 1. Though I know there were, and still are, times he would like to tell me I'm insane, or that he just doesn't want to mess with one project or another, he’s never told me no. And he has been such a good source of history for farming, buildings, and more, for me. I don't know if there is a contractor around who would have been a better fit for what we have done over the last 15 years!
What services do you offer?
Jane: Matilda's only acts as landlord/property manager at the moment. Couples are free to use any licensed and insured alcohol provider and caterer they choose for weddings. Perhaps in the future, we will offer other services, but we're happy at the moment with what we are doing.
At some point, our daughters will take over and they have TONS of ideas… but we'll leave that for them to tackle!