February 25, 2020
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Once dilapidated Buxton barn charms foodies, couples saying ‘I do’

BUXTON, Maine — It once was a generous property, but time had not been kind to the Flanagan farmstead. Vacant for three years and neglected for more, the agrarian spread on Route 4 was two weeks away from going up in flames as a practice site for the Buxton Fire Department.

Its 15-bay, three-story barn was listing to one side. The classic post-and-beam structure balanced tenuously on only three of four corners. The rambling house loosely attached was just as precarious.

But Gail Landry was rapt.

Looking for a year-round counterpart to her established wedding venue, The Barn on Walnut Hill in North Yarmouth, the former New York City bond trader saw something others missed — potential.

“This fabulous barn has great height and had original ladders. You could just see what it could become,” Landry said.

On a recent Sunday afternoon, as preparations unfolded for monthly supper club Flanagan’s Table run by her daughter, Alex Collins Wight, her vision was fulfilled.

Candelabras and wine glasses were polished, fresh flowers attractively placed on a community table, tasty aromas wafted from the kitchen. Bluegrass music blared from a high-end sound system. She rebuilt it, and they came.

Foodies from across the state are flocking here for the year-round dining series. Featuring the rock stars of Maine’s culinary scene, Flanagan’s Table sells out as fast as Springsteen tickets, and the splurge is nearly as expensive.

Meanwhile, brides-to-be suddenly are lining up to hold their nuptials in this Town and Country setting dubbed The Barn at Flanagan Farm. For Maine brides, getting hitched in a barn “is a reflection of who they are and how they relate to Maine as a state,” Landry said. Warm wood tones, vaulting space and hand-hewn beams all speak authenticity.

“Most people tell me getting married here was probably the most fun they’ve ever had,” Landry said on a tour of the property, which includes a deluxe four-bedroom home and posh groom cottage, formerly a roadside produce stand.

In 2011, Landry bought the spread for $145,000 and spent four to five times as much to bring it back and make it sing.

“Once I got into it, I realized I had to take the house down to the studs,” she said. “It would’ve been simpler and cost less money to build a new house than rebuild that house, but we knew it had good bones.”

To get those bones back in shape, Adam Ginsberg of Mast Construction Corp. in Scarborough was hired to recreate the barn.

Similar to a barn chiropractor, he removed old flooring planks, wall sheeting, window and door trim and completely dismantled the barn.

“We lifted the barn up to pour a new foundation, reassembled the post and beams and built the connection to the house,” Ginsberg, who worked for months in a tent next to the barn, said.

While hand-hewing new beams that needed to be replaced, the project came full circle. His crew found a grinding wheel and old hatchet under the barn — the same tools that may have been used to build the structure 180 years ago.

“We set up the grinding wheel and sharpened the hatchet with the wheel,” he said. Hand tools were necessary to “maintain the aesthetics and the integrity.”

One million dollars later, the well-coiffed Landry has a lucrative business. But the story is not over.

“It will take years, working with the landscape. We want to grow clover,” she said gesturing outside to her 66 acres.

On the grounds a few steps away, a foundation is being built for a new barn to make this an all-inclusive venue. The English-style, 28-by-30 foot barn with 16-foot high walls and big doors will hold rehearsal dinners and day-after brunches.

“The town has been incredibly warm and welcoming,” Landry said with a big smile. “I knew this could be a beautiful barn. I knew the potential was here.”


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