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story.lead_photo.caption Photo by Sally Carroll/McDonald County Press The Under the Woods barn was designed by Janet Underwood and built by a construction crew from Grove, Okla. The construction company owner, Nathan Miller, gave her the hay hook to hang from the front of the barn.

Janet Underwood couldn't be deterred. She was determined that the perfect spot for the barn of her dreams was near the top of a hill.

Though her husband, Vic, and many others along the way told her she should consider a lower spot on the hill, she wouldn't give up. They told her she was bound to hit slate rock. It couldn't be done.

But Janet knew that her dream barn -- to be host to weddings and other special events -- would be beautiful in that exact spot.

Before the excavator could dig, they reached an agreement: if he hit slate rock, she would have to move the barn's location further down the hill.

"There's slate rock to the left, and there's slate rock to the right," explained Vic, motioning where the slate rock lies. "Right here, there's no slate rock. You cannot dig this deep and not hit rock."

But excavators kept digging and never came to a standstill. Crews dug 90 feet deep, and hauled away 900 truckloads of dirt from the hillside.

No slate rock could be found in that particular site, Vic said.

Today, a beautiful barn, which will soon be the unique setting for special events, is a testament to one woman's dream.

"I just knew this was the right place," Janet said.

Under the Woods, an event center, is already booked for several upcoming special events. Janet has a flair for decorating. The barn has details that bring out the natural beauty of the design, the wood and the simplicity of the setting.

Though the Underwoods are working hard to finish out a few tasks, most of the work is complete.

Janet designed the floor plan herself, wanting the kitchen, bathrooms and dressing room on one side of the barn, with the other side featuring a lean-to patio.

A construction company out of Grove, Okla., which usually builds pole barns, oversaw all construction.

The idea for such an event venue came when the Underwoods' oldest son was getting married. He looked at similar venues in Kansas City. During his research, he told his mother that she should consider such an idea.

"Hey, Mom, you've got the perfect place," he said.

The Underwoods own the land, just a few minutes north of the Jane Walmart Supercenter. Headed north, the land featuring the event center is to the left. The beautiful hill features a natural pond, a beautiful view and more.

Workers have diligently sweated to make the event center happen. Many neighbors and friends have helped as well, Janet said.

"To watch this go up was amazing," she said.

Designed With Purpose

The event center will be host to weddings, dances, reunions, Christmas parties and baby and bridal showers.

The Bella Vista Hiking Club has already booked a dinner and dance for February. On this day, Janet is showcasing the nearly finished barn to a potential bride.

The kitchen features a commercial fridge, along with an ice machine, microwave and stove. A service road has been built just for delivery trucks, so caterers and others making deliveries can easily drop off food and supplies for the special event.

The men's restroom is also located off to the side of the main part of the barn. The women's restroom features adjoining bridal quarters and make-up lighting. That bride's quarters is a special part of the barn's features. Janet laid the brick wall herself, making sure the wall brought a special rustic look to the room. The room is complete with a three-way mirror and small platform for the bride for viewing.

The main area of the barn can seat upwards of 200 people, and a pergola soon will be finished to the south of the barn. Logs will provide seating. Horses, donkeys and an occasional deer may be in the backdrop as well, Janet said.

One of the best features, the event center can accommodate anyone who is wanting to have a wedding and reception in one location.

Finishing touches include more landscaping, building steps in the front, placing a double swing up the hill near a large rock, and creating a second spot outdoors for a wedding. A wedding cabin also will be built.

Inside the barn, the tea-stained walls will be coated so as not to yellow. The light brown of the wood is a nice contrast to soft gold lighting and the natural light that floods in from the barn's large windows.

White tablecloths and tables contrast nicely with darker wooden chairs.

Janet has tried to think of everything to create a special space.

Landscaping crews have created a waterfall, and a bridge will soon span the water. Magnolia and cypress trees have been planted.

A large retaining wall has been built around the back of the barn, to help with runoff and to maintain the integrity of the hill.

The barn, in its unique location, is literally right under some woods on the top of the hill. That's how the name came about, Janet said.

The business, which is in Janet's name only, has been a labor of love. She's been on hand to make decisions, from a construction standpoint to a designer's view.

The stress has not been overwhelming for her.

"I love weddings. We want to make it as smooth and easy as we can, the way they want it," she said.

"I love showing it off. People say it's beautiful."

She is excited about working with a variety of patrons, which will lead to additional relationships for years to come.

"We will be friends for life."

Detailed Overseer

Janet has utilized her organizational skills to bring the project together. As a teacher, she is used to the small details -- as well as the big picture. She met Vic after his first wife died. Upon his request, she began homeschooling and caring for his four young children.

About a year later, the two decided to marry. Janet continued to homeschool their children -- with one child they had together -- until all were ready for college.

Taking on such a project as building, designing and decorating a barn from the ground up does not phase her.

Through her vision, she has been able to handle all the details easily. They've also had several aspects of construction -- including the barn's location -- fall into place.

The Missouri Highway and Transportation Department spent millions to bust up slate rock when the highway was expanded, then dumped a great deal of leftover gravel on their hill, Vic said.

Today, all that gravel has been smoothed out to create a parking lot, which would have cost the Underwoods a big price tag had they done the work on their own.

Their five children have all helped, along with neighbors and friends. Janet has consulted with her daughters on design details and colors.

One of the most involved is their 11-year-old granddaughter, who is quite the little tour guide, explaining all the details of the event center. She's been there for almost all of the construction and decorating and is well-versed on all the features, Janet said.

The Underwoods hope the event center will stay in their family as a future venture.

In the meantime, Vic, who is in sales, and Janet, who will oversee the barn's events, marvel at how thing have come together so smoothly.

"If we would have built lower on the hill, we wouldn't have had this view," Vic said.

Janet believes the idea for a barn could be a little bit of divine intervention.

"The Lord had it planned."

General News on 09/13/2018

Print Headline: Design With A Purpose: Special Barn To Host Weddings And More

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