After a much needed rain shower passed through Berryville Saturday morning, government officials, residents, and board members of the Barns of Rose Hill foundation gathered to celebrate perhaps the most significant milestone for the project to date. With funding in place and a construction contract approved, the crowd gathered at the site of the Barns to officially break ground on the new facility.
The Barns of Rose Hill has been a a community project for decades in Clarke County. It is envisioned as a space to celebrate life, the arts, and culture as well as enhance the quality of life for members of the community. The 7,438-square-foot facility will also serve as a tourism office for visitors to our community.
As the gathered crowd settled into seats the president of the Barns of Rose Hill board of directors, Diana Kincannon welcomed everyone to the, “truly auspicious occasion.” Joining her at the podium were Mayor Wilson Kirby, Virginia Delegate, Joe May, and Chairman of the Clarke County Board of Supervisors, Michael Hobert. Each took the opportunity to thank the community and say a few words.
Mayor Wilson Kirby recounted his path to Berryville and his service on the board of the Rose Hill project before becoming Mayor of Berryville. He said, “This is a great day for Clarke County and the town of Berryville. The Barns are an inspiration to me.”
Delegate Joe May took to the podium next. He expressed his affinity for the county and the project stating, “I can’t tell you how proud I am to see what’s happening here this morning. I have to tell you that it is projects like this that differentiate a community. We have a community that has cohesiveness, cooperation that actually like each other and that work together.”
He also took the opportunity to thank Diana Kincannon for her tireless work on the project. “Regarding Diana I don’t know how to sum it up except I was once quoted by a reporter in talking about my sister Phoebe who was a member of the general assembly. I commented that she made bulldogs look like quitters…move over Phoebe.”
Board of Supervisors Chair, Michael Hobert took the microphone next and recounted his experiences at the barns as a youth. “This is a very personal experience for me. Over fifty years ago I used to play here on a daily basis on these grounds and in these barns with the McGuinny boys that used to live in the little house back there, some of you might know them. I must also say that I’m a little embarrassed to admit that we burned down a shed that used to sit over there. Lucky for you we didn’t play with matches here.”
He went on to paint a picture of what the Barns of Rose Hill means to the community now and what it will mean to future generations in Clarke County.
It’s often been said that those who construct their own shelter are replicating themselves at the deepest and most significant level. I believe the same can be said of a community. I believe the courageous and consistent effort to commit to the restoration of these barns represents who we are as a community. We are about to pass on to others our contribution to promote, not only the enrichment of the community at this center for arts and education, but also demonstrating how cooperating and steadfast commitment to a common purpose will result in a quality place to live. On behalf of Clarke County I thank the Barns of Rose Hill, the Town of Berryville, the Town of Boyce, our friends from the General Assembly, and the many supporting service organizations in the county and the hundreds of businesses and individuals who donated money as well as time and effort to make this day possible. We are grateful and most proud that we could accomplish this together.
Diana Kincannon, president of the Barns board wrapped up the comments by thanking the countless people who have been involved in the project over the years, in particular the board of directors for the Barns of Rose Hill. Ms. Kincannon took the opportunity to recognize all of the members who were present. Her feelings about the dedication and work of the board were summed up in her comment, “Make no mistake our board has made today possible.”
She also spoke about the project and the vision of the board shares about it saying,
“The nearly six years of the capital campaign have been a journey of discovery imagination and of commitment. It has been a privilege and honor for me to work with a smart creative and active board of directors. They have directed and corrected me, and they know how much I have needed that direction and correction, and I thank you. They have worked hard and well all motivated by a vision for the Barns Center as a unique and beautiful resource for our people. A place for poetry and music, theater and film, a place to encourage creativity, and to build relationships. A place to explore life and its wonders and complexities. Where we can come to understand more about who we are and who we can be. And the restored barns will be a beautiful symbol of the agricultural heritage of our beautiful Shenandoah Valley.”
With the thanks delivered, the speakers and representatives from the construction and architectural firms took their shovels and in unison turned over the first shovels of dirt symbolically launching the construction phase of the long awaited project.
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