Karen and Larry Brantley purchased their Callahan ranch in 2011, situated on 760 sprawling acres of beautiful pastures, ancient hardwoods, and multiple freshwater ponds. Their intention was to raise cattle and grow crops, in fact, Cottonwood Ranch grew their herd to 500 head of Angus cattle. “But we needed a barn,” says Karen.
“Our original intention was to build the Barn for our personal use, but when Larry’s 6th grade teacher, Mrs. Carole Higginbotham, who holds a special place in Larry’s heart, asked if we could host a 50th wedding anniversary party for her and Mr. Higginbotham at the Barn, he wanted to make it spectacular.
“My husband Larry can do anything, and build anything. He built the Barn with his own two hands, crafted with lumber from our land. He even bought his own sawmill! It turned out so beautifully that we decided to become an event venue for others to enjoy.”
The Barn became a work of art; it took a year to build, and was completed in March of 2018. The couple’s intention was to use the Barn as a venue for weddings, anniversaries, and other special events, and the location doesn’t get any better than Cottonwood Ranch. “Our property is stunning and serene,” said Karen. “The lush pastures and secluded nature of the ranch create the perfect ambiance for any event.” Boasting large windows, a grand front porch, and covered side porches, the Barn was designed with space and accommodation in mind. Featuring heavy timber construction, high cathedral ceilings, and ample room for 299 guests, a wedding at Cottonwood Ranch is an unforgettable experience.
The Barn is fully air conditioned and heated, so you can hold your event here any time of the year. We have a bridal lounge and groom’s lounge with private bathrooms, so there’s plenty of room to get ready for the wedding,” said Karen. “There’s a lovely pond and large live oak tree outside, which makes for a beautiful wedding ceremony. The large front porch is also an option – in fact there are so many options to utilize both the inside of the Barn and its surrounding property.”
Beyond the grandeur of the main hall, the Barn includes exclusive amenities like a downstairs bar, commercial catering kitchen, and large gas fire pit. “85 percent of the materials used to build the Barn came from our own land,” said Karen. “We strived to make every detail perfect, from hand-hewn cypress, to a repurposed syrup kettle fire pit, and even railings from a 19th century bank. My husband is an amazing craftsman – he put his heart and soul into the Barn.”
“There are no noise worries at the Barn,” says Karen. “Because of the secluded setting of the ranch, guests can feel free to dance, sing, play music, and have a great time – there are no nearby neighbors to bother! The Barn is accessible to everyone with wide, paved paths, low thresholds, and ADA compliant restrooms. All main gathering spaces are located on the ground level so everyone can enjoy the Barn.”
The Barn at Cottonwood Ranch has become a family affair, with Karen’s parents, Melvin and Norma Fouraker, her aunt and uncle, Beverly and George Fencik, and son, Easton helping out with the events. Her best friend, Jane Moore, is their events manager.
“The Barn is a labor of love for all of us,” says Karen. “We want our guests to feel at home, and appreciate the beauty of the ranch as much as we do!” The Barn at Cottonwood Ranch is located at 452039 Old Dixie Highway in Callahan. For more information or to arrange a tour, call (904) 677-1350 or visit www.barnatcottonwoodranch.com.