story by GLENDA WINDERS
It used to be that when you needed a venue for a gathering your choices were limited to a church, a hotel, a restaurant, or your own backyard. But modern event-planners, be they brides, corporate team-builders, or someone planning a family/friend retreat, have lots more options from which to choose.
Journeyman at The American Factory in Valparaiso is one of them. What began as The Woolen Mill in the 1860s is now home to a distillery, multiple restaurants, a rooftop bar — and private celebrations. Three extraordinary spaces retain their industrial vibe while lending themselves well to dressed- up elegance. Also here is the Four Corners Winery and Wedding Venue, a Quonset barn with plenty of space outside for an outdoor ceremony. For smaller groups –showers, birthday parties and the like — their upstairs and deck are open for after-hours events.
The Mascot Hall of Fame in Whiting, always fun to visit, now also rents out its Furitorium with a view of the Lake Michigan shoreline, a full bar and outdoor patio. This is a great spot for corporate gatherings, showers, receptions, press conferences and educational assemblies. Younger guests will enjoy birthday parties with pizza, photos and swag.
Barrelhouse The Venue in Michigan City had been sitting empty since Prohibition but has now been restored as a setting for large groups. In addition, it offers a bridal suite, bar and outdoor patio, with apartments for rent, as well. The same company owns Beachwalk Vacation Rentals for more lodging possibilities. Also here is the Blue Chip Casino, whose wedding and catering staff can create a package to include showers, rehearsal dinners, weddings – whatever you need. The Hard Rock Casino has ideal spaces for over-21 events.
If you want to plan a retreat or family reunion in a place with great history, book The Old Ruth in LaPorte. This historic 35-room house is the former home of Ruth Sabin and was built so Ruth could house widows who’d otherwise be alone.
Another nice retreat option in norther Indiana is the Lighthouse Lodge, with bed & breakfast and cottage rentals located right on Lake Shafer in Monticello.
The Black Creek Ridge flower farm in Noble County offers the Chapel Pavilion in the garden for intimate weddings, and their Madison Rose event space, surrounded by picturesque countryside views, is the perfect complement for the reception. Also in Noble County you’ll find Sylvan Cellers Event Center, which was an endangered barn that’s been transformed into a beautiful venue.
The space is equipped with 30-foot high gabled ceilings, chandeliers, and the original salvaged stained wood floors. And not too far away, on ten wooded acres, there’s the “Gathering Place,” which offers two buildings with 6,700 square feet of usable indoor space, and 1,000 square feet of outdoor patio space.
Consider the 4-H Fairgrounds and Conference Complex in Hendricks County for seminars, conferences and trade shows in the Hendricks Power Exposition Hall. Their Cartlidge Barn and Pavilion is perfect for weddings.
The Blanton House is a Georgian colonial-style mansion on 73 acres of landscaped grounds just moments from downtown Danville. They welcome every type of event from retreats, weddings and family reunions to showers, retirement parties and celebration of life commemorations.
Fair Oaks Farms in Newton County can manage entire events — conferences, trade shows, weddings, meetings and private parties – with their multiple banquet rooms, farm- to-table menus and lodging for out-of-town participants. If the group includes children, the onsite tours and activities will keep them entertained.
Delphi’s crown jewel is the restored Delphi Opera House, where the theater is perfect for weddings with its floor-to-ceiling windows, louvred shutters and tapestried wallpaper. Smaller venues here for other types of events and meetings are the Multipurpose Room, the Banquet Hall and the Conference Room.
Want to invite an alpaca to your special event? You can do just that at Heritage Farm near Kokomo. Not only is the farm’s rural setting a draw for overnight guests and special celebrations, but it’s home to more than 60 Suri alpacas.
Jay County’s Wheeland Spoke Antique Mall in Portland used to be a jeans manufacturing facility but now hosts a wide variety of booths where antique-lovers come to poke around. The back of the building, however, has been transformed into an event center that rents out for weddings, craft shows, banquets and more.
In Shelbyville, it’s the Charles Davis Mansion that draws groups of overnight guests and special events. This fully-restored Victorian Queen Anne masterpiece features an amazing 20-foot by 40-foot wrap- around front porch for entertaining, 7,000 square feet over three floors, and stunning original woodworking craftsmanship with gas line chandeliers and sconces.
The 9,000-square-foot Long House Lodge at the Wasatch Lake Country Retreat in Owen County has a lakeside setting for private parties, family reunions, corporate retreats and weddings. Their inviting porch and meadow can be used for outdoor activities, ceremonies and gatherings.
The Old Jail Inn would be fun for a corporate retreat. On the downtown square in Rockville, it is probably the only place where you can stay overnight in a jail cell because you want to. This inn with nine cells served as Parke County’s jail from 1879 to 1998.
In Hope, the White Diamond Lavender Farms provide a rustic, elegant venue in a 7,800-square-foot climate-controlled barn surrounded by ten acres of more than 1,000 lavender plants and farm acreage.
French Lick Springs Resort in French Lick-West Baden offers dazzling venues, rural charm, historic beauty and impeccable service to create a setting for your event. Whether it be a bachelor party in the casino, a bachelorette party in the spas or the main event, they’ve got you covered.
Madison is home to more than 25 signature venues for weddings that include the riverfront gazebo and riverfront views, barns, gardens, fountains, historic homes and classic facilities for events from 20 to 350. Here you’ll find the White Barn Venue, which sits on 49 acres of rolling countryside near the Ohio River and downtown. The spacious 1800s barn provides rustic charm with a touch of chic elegance, and its open loft overlooks the lower level, while a grand chandelier shines a warm, romantic light on your special day.
And in Paoli, you’ll find beautiful gardens, stunning hilltop views, and breathtaking sunsets at the Blueberry Hill Estate.