BERMUDA RUN, N.C. (AP) — Whitney Denny liked the look of the restored WinMock barn so much that she's thinking about holding her wedding reception there.
"It's very pretty and unique," Denny said.
Denny, of King, was one of more than 1,000 people who showed up recently for an open house at the former dairy barn and longtime landmark near Bermuda Run in eastern Davie County.
The barn opened on June 25 as an upscale venue for weddings, corporate meetings and social events.
The WinMock at Kinderton events center is owned by Sterling Events of Clemmons and offers 17,000 square feet of space. The barn is inside Kinderton, a commercial development off U.S. 158 just west of the Yadkin River.
"It's very multipurpose," said Tabatha Renegar, the managing director for WinMock. "Anything you would think of a conference center for, that's what we are. Monday through Friday there are corporate events — the luncheons, the banquets, the break-out rooms and staff retreats. Then on the weekends the weddings, the Christmas parties, the bar mitzvahs."
WinMock's first event would be a wedding. The venue will be the setting for one or more wedding events on Saturdays for the rest of the year, except for two days, Renegar said. There are even weddings booked for 2012 and 2013.
Corporate bookings include the YMCA of Northwest North Carolina and Wake Forest University.
Sterling Events announced its plans for the historic barn in late 2009.
It was built in the late 1920s as part of the country estate built by S. Clay Williams, a former president of R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. Listed officially as Win-Mock Farm Dairy, the property was recently placed on the National Register of Historic Places. At one time, it was one of the largest dairies in North Carolina.
The barn has two floors. The lower level — which used to hold cow stalls — now houses two dining rooms, seven meeting rooms, a dressing room and a large prep kitchen for use by caterers.
The second floor was originally home to 7,000 bales of hay. Featuring the original pine floors and ceiling, it now serves as a loft space for gatherings and includes a mezzanine area and kitchen.
Wayne Thomas, the president of Sterling Events, declined to say how much he has invested in the property.
"The dollars haven't been critical," he said. "What we were concerned about was doing it right and doing it so that it retained its historical character."
Thomas said that Sterling Events, which also has offices in Charlotte and Raleigh, has organized corporate and social events for 25 years, often using historic venues.
"We knew this building was a special place and we knew that over time it would work," Thomas said.
He said that with the economy starting to recover, WinMock is already getting corporate business from across the state and attracting other customers from a much wider area.
"For weddings and social gatherings, we are pulling from all over the Southeast," he said. "So we're very flattered."
Gene Weitnauer of Advance and his wife, Rena, live about a mile from WinMock and have been watching renovations to the barn over the past year.
After touring the historic property, they were pleased by what they saw.
He had hoped the barn would be turned into a gourmet restaurant with an upstairs theater, similar to a former mill he saw in Colonial Heights, Va., that holds a dinner theater.
But Weitnauer believes that Sterling Events has a good venue that will be an asset to the community and stay busy with conventions and weddings.
"It's an excellent facility," he said. "They've beautifully restored it."
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.