Writer / Kris Parker -Photographer / Forrest Mellott
Growing up in a barn in Greenwood (actually, eight barns put together into one home) affected Amanda Cottingham in a way she never anticipated. “Our home was quite unique, but it’s where my appreciation of rustic and hand-crafted items began,” said Cottingham. “Above our front door was an old etched glass window reading ‘Bay Horse Inn,’ and our home was about sharing moments with friends and family.” Now she’s sharing these same qualities with the community in the form of her own Bay Horse Inn. Johnson County’s largest event venue.
Over the years, Cottingham has gradually purchased several acres of property in Greenwood … 35 acres in total. “It all began when I bought the cabin, now known as The Inn, in 1999,” she said., At the time, she wasn’t sure what she would do with the property but she knew she wanted to keep it together. In spite of the multiple offers from developers wanting to buy the land from her, she has stood firm. “I just couldn’t stand the thought of every single tree being leveled to put up several homes. We love this view,” she explained. “We’d like to preserve the trees and land and share it with the community. It’s like being in Brown County.”
Soon after buying the land, she began hosting her parties on the property. “The land was so beautiful … it was a natural setting to celebrate with friends and family,” she said. “It started with our own annual Race Day party, and before we knew it, we were hosting showers, reunions and even outdoor weddings.” After hosting several events for friends and family, Cottingham and her family decided to share the property with others.
This month, Bay Horse Inn officially opens its barn doors to the public.
Though the journey started with the purchase of what is known as The Inn, there is more to Bay Horse Inn that simply that. In addition to The Inn, the property includes The Event Barn, The Saloon and The Stables as well.
The Inn was the cabin on the first piece of property Cottingham purchased and where the story of Bay Horse Inn began. “Today, our Inn is perfect for the honeymoon suite. We are finding that couples are renting it for the entire weekend and staying with the bridal party the night prior,” Cottingham said.
The Event Barn is a newly-built structure featuring elegant chandeliers and rustic barn doors. “We only host one event at a time, so you don’t have to share parking, restrooms, porches or fight for your disc jockey or band to be heard. We can also let the outside in by opening up the space to the outdoors and extend onto the wrap-around covered porch,” she said. Complete with heat and A/C to provide comfort for guests year-round, it seats up to 425 people and can accommodate weddings, fundraisers, corporate events and private parties.
The Stables house the Cottingham’s personal horses, which can also be used for guest photography. “We even have a donkey named Toby that can help pass out programs, wedding bubbles or more from his hand-crafted saddle,” she explained.
The fourth part of the facility is The Saloon. Adjacent to the barn, The Saloon acts as the bar during barn events. When The Barn is not in use, The Saloon can also be rented out separately for smaller events. “Its country chic decor is the perfect space to relax,” said Cottingham. “It’s commonly booked for rehearsal dinners, corporate events and bachelor parties, and we’ve even had the Center Grove football team reserve it for a few events.”
When an event is booked at Bay Horse Inn, the property is available for guest photography as well. In addition, details such as a vintage European Cake Cart and a 1963 Ford pickup truck are also open for guest usage. Cottingham added, “Anything to provide additional character is available at no additional charge to the guests.”
Not alone in this endeavor, Mallow Run also offers a new event facility with The Sycamore. But Bay Horse Inn welcomes its opening as well. As Cottingham was quick to point out, “How wonderful is it that the southside has two new, and unique, options to choose from? We love Mallow Run and imagine their event center is going to be just as great. There is plenty of business out there for all of us,” she said. “For a winery, clients go to them; for a rustic barn in the woods, they come to us. Let’s stop sending business downtown and north and support our local venues. So many businesses are going to benefit from this. We’ve teamed up with local bakeries, photographers, DJs, event planners and so on. This is going to boost our local businesses.”
SERVING THE COMMUNITY
Having Bay Horse Inn in the community will give other local businesses the chance to work in their own backyard. Historically, many service providers have had to travel downtown or to the northside in order to serve their clients. Having a facility here allows them the chance to stick closer to home.
In order to serve their clients well, Bay Horse Inn has a list of “Preferred Partners” with whom they have a relationship. These include, but are not limited to, southside florists, DJs, bakeries and photographers. “We make it easy on our brides and corporations,” she said. “Many of these are locally-owned and right here in town.”
Another way they have found their niche is by getting involved with the community. One such event, with proceeds benefiting Johnson County Habitat for Humanity was held Sunday, October 23. For a small donation per family, everyone was welcome to visit The Event Barn for a day of fall fun.
A FINAL WORD
“Bay Horse Inn is an experience unlike any other. Our country chic and rustic style puts people at ease immediately. You can have a destination wedding right here in town but feel like you’re someplace else. Corporations love it because it’s such a different environment from their workplace. Our events can be casual or formal,” Cottingham said. “It’s very high-end because we didn’t cut corners. We want to make this a great facility. There will not be anything like this in the state of Indiana.”
Bay Horse Inn offers a military, fire and police discount as well discounts for nonprofits. For more information about this or any other aspect of the facility, visit their website at barnatbayhorse.com. Or give them a call 317-760-8778.