ELLSWORTH AMERICAN PHOTOS BY LETITIA BALDWIN

Barn again: Remodeled barn envisioned as events center



Steuben builder Heath Barnes and his son Aaron singlehandedly rebuilt the 2,800-square-foot barn at the former Ocean Wood Campground property in Gouldsboro’s Birch Harbor village. The building is envisioned as an events center for the Schoodic Peninsula and for groups coming from farther afield. ELLSWORTH AMERICAN PHOTOS BY LETITIA BALDWIN

GOULDSBORO — When Roxanne Quimby bought the former Oceanwood at Schoodic Point, featuring bold, pristine coastline, the 118-acre property’s structures included a run-down barn nestled in the woods. Four years later, that white elephant has been transformed into an airy, handsome building poised to serve as a special events center for the greater Schoodic Peninsula area and beyond.

About a quarter mile off East Schoodic Drive in Birch Harbor village, a gravel road winds through the former 70-campsite facility’s grounds, past striking views of sparkling inlets and tidal flats, eventually leading to the proposed events center that is currently under review by the Planning Board. The original barn’s great gambrel roof, cross-board sliding doors and overall classic look have been kept. But natural light now fills the 2,800-square-foot structure through oversized double-hung windows flanking the façade and sides. The cedar-shingled building also has sliding barn doors, whose inset windows and transoms let in more light, on both sides. 

The barn now has restrooms as well as a small prep kitchen for caterers to warm up and plate food. Sliding barn doors open onto a spacious patio equipped with a propane firepit.

Inside the barn, a cathedral ceiling rises 26 feet in height. A staircase leads to a second-story balcony surrounding the lofty space. Strings of tiny white lights and white paper lanterns are strung across the opening to create a celebratory air. The interior’s studs, posts, joists, angled walls and wainscotting are all unstained white pine. Discreet, extensive track lighting and wall fixtures illuminate the wood and create a warm glow. Liquid Floors of New England put in the epoxy floor running the length of the first floor featuring a banquet room, restrooms and a small kitchen strictly for caterers to prep and plate food. A hot-air furnace was added too. 

Outside, the barn boasts an expansive patio, built to create an outdoor space for people to congregate, which also conceals the new septic system. A propane fire pit is set up on the herringbone-patterned stone terrace. Around the building, coarse, crushed granite has been laid as part of the drainage system. A new well was drilled for the facility.

Quimby’s longtime properties manager and builder Heath Barnes and his son Aaron singlehandedly remodeled the barn that previously served as a storage building for the original Ocean Wood Campground owned by Jim Brunton and run by his brother Mike for years. Brunton lost the property in a 2009 foreclosure. In 2009, the campground was auctioned off and purchased by Nicholas Bayley of Schoodic Point LLC. Quimby, through her real estate entity Seaside Properties LLC, acquired the property for $1.5 million several days before it was to be auctioned off by Androscoggin Bank. 

From the start, Quimby envisioned the barn as a gathering place for large functions and she and Barnes collaborated on the design to remodel the structure. He credits her with opening up the second story and creating the upstairs gallery. He says the angled walls, wainscotting and lighting fixtures were her ideas too. Started in 2018, the remodeling project involved emptying out the structure and required three 30-yard dumpsters. The work was completed late last spring. Only some landscaping remains. 

The storage barn had to be gutted, reroofed and reshingled. Extensive work inside was done to stabilize the structure and turn it into a seasonal facility for events. A new well was drilled and septic system installed.

When she ran Raven’s Nest restaurant in Winter Harbor several years ago, Quimby says diners often asked about holding wedding receptions and other large functions there, but the building and parking area were not big enough or equipped to accommodate them. The absence, though, of a local events center stuck in her mind.

“There really was no one to refer them to,” she recalled earlier this week. 

Operating from late May to mid-October, Quimby envisions the remodeled barn as a space for large functions such as weddings, family reunions or corporate and nonprofit organizations’ events. From 9 a.m. on Friday to 9 a.m. on Monday, she says the facility and its grounds would be rented to groups that would secure their own caterers and furnish supplies from cutlery and glassware to tables and chairs. These parties also would be responsible for all garbage and its removal as part of a contract. She said the parties could make use of the gazebo, hiking trails other scenic features on the grounds. No fires would be allowed. 

When she first acquired the Birch Harbor property, Quimby initially had contemplated possibly reopening the former campground as a commercial venture for tenting and small, self-contained campers. Extensive research, however, into the cost of refurbishing and bringing into compliance the property’s original infrastructure, anticipated staffing and the operation’s long-term scenic and environmental impact convinced her over time not to pursue that option. 

Quimby also noted the Schoodic Peninsula already has Acadia National Park’s Schoodic Woods campground as well as facilities for RVers. 

“It started getting out of proportion to what I wanted to do and what I could break even on. It would have been a huge enterprise,” the conservationist and business entrepreneur said. “I just didn’t want to do it. I thought the property was better left alone and undisturbed.” 

Gouldsboro’s Planning Board was scheduled earlier this week to review Quimby’s preliminary site plan application for the events center. Chairman Ray Jones said the board’s next step will be to hold a public hearing. Tentatively, he said the earliest date would be Jan. 12. 

 

Letitia Baldwin

Arts Editor at The Ellsworth American
In addition to editing the Arts & Leisure section, Letitia edits special sections including Out & About, Overview, Health Quarterly, Your Maine Home, House & Garden and Get Ready for Winter. She comes from Chicago, Ill, but has deep family ties to the Cranberry Isles. [email protected]

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