Barns Faithful Gather with Much to Celebrate

Attendees chat before the second annual meeting. Photo Mike Dowling

A jovial crowd of friends and supporters gathered Sunday afternoon for the Barns of Rose Hill annual meeting after one of the most tumultuous weeks in the organization’s history. The litigation that threatened the Barns loomed throughout the week, but an agreement late Friday afternoon meant that Sunday’s  meeting could focus on the contributions of the many people who make the organization what it is today while at the same time looking expectantly towards the future.

Volunteers are the life blood of the Barns of Rose Hill and this second annual meeting  presented the opportunity for the people who work tirelessly behind the scenes to be recognized for their selfless contributions. From lighting and sound to programming and volunteer coordination, volunteers from throughout the community were recognized. Board member Elaine Dennison who has been with the organization since 2004, thanked the individuals who make the Barns the pride of the community.

She also recognized a specific group for their exceptional work for the Barns saying:

Elaine Dennison displays the etched glasses. Photo Mike Dowling

“The non-profit world has a jargon all of its own especially when you’re talking about desired characteristics of people they would like to have on the board. One of them is the three G’s, that a board member should: Give, Get, or Get out. Not too friendly, but it does address the burden of fund raising that every board has. You have to raise money somewhere. But, there is another one that I like better, and that is the three T’s. A board member should contribute: Time, Talent, and/or Treasure, preferably all three. So today we are going to recognize a few of those people.”

Recognized for their “Three T” contributions were:
George Dellinger, Diane Harrison, Dave Foster, Janet Eltinge, and Susie Bailey.

Each was presented with a small token of appreciation which will surely be a local collectors item. Each received a set of four glasses etched with “The Barns of Rose Hill.” The glasses were completed before the agreement with Wolf Trap was penned, so they still bear “The.”

The board also had two big announcements regarding staff for the Barns. Two positions have been filled for the growing organization. One new position is for The Berryville Clarke County Visitors Center at Barns of Rose Hill. The Visitor’s Center occupies the smaller of the two barns and will provide information to visitors’ about the history and sites that Clarke County has to offer. Ann Lesman announced, “There is no one else that could do this job as well as the person that we have selected, to know the history and the face of Berryville and Clarke County, and that person is Susi Bailey”

Susi Bailey has been a dedicated volunteer for many years. Her new position will be Director of the Visitors Center.

New Executive Director for Barns of Rose Hill Ben Glenn. Photo Mike Dowling

Also announced was the hiring of an Executive Directer (ED) for the Barns of Rose Hill. The Board engaged in a search for their first official ED and that search has concluded with the hiring of Ben Glenn. Ms. Lesman introduced the new ED saying,”Ben has over 25 years of of experience in non-profit sector in the fields of Arts Administration, fund raising, and communications. He has a BA in Art History from Carleton College and comes to us with experience as Exhibitions Coordinator at the National Gallery of Art and has worked for the National Endowment for the Arts. He was also Manager of Communications at the Community Foundation for the National Capital Region. He has exactly the background we need to lead us, and to give us vision and direction as we move forward.”

Mr. Glen said he grew up in a small town in Western Pa. and has a lifelong passion for the arts. He spoke of his excitement in joining the Barns of Rose Hill and outlined a rough framework of his vision for the organization. It included three key components that he felt were crucial for the Barns continuing success. “I want to ensure that Barns of Rose Hill is the cultural gem of Clarke County and the Shenandoah Valley , providing access to cultural programming and artistic experiences.” He spoke of the rich diversity and availability of arts throughout the valley and the important role the Barns can play in making it accessible to the public.

“Second, I want to ensure that we continue to be a community center for not just arts but education, and overall fellowship.” Stressing the importance of face to face connections between people he said, “A place like this brings people together to communicate, to learn from one and other and to have a little fun.”

His last point and one that resonates with concerns in the community was making the Barns an engine for the local economy. “I want to see the Barns become a real generator for local business. Drawing revenue into the county especially at a time when our valley is really threatened by big box stores.”

Ann Lesman tells the tale of Wolf Trap. Photo Mike Dowling

Closing out the meeting, Ann Lesman provided the group with an official update on the Wolf Trap situation. The lawsuit over the use of the word “Barns” (See previous articles) created an outcry in the community and sent the Barns of Rose Hill into crisis mode. An agreement was reached on Friday to avoid litigation. Ms. Lesman outlined the agreement and said that the letter of understanding had been signed by both parties and they expected the suit to be dropped on Monday.

As the Clarke Daily News reported on Friday, the agreement stipulates the the Barns of Rose Hill will drop “The” from their brand and must include a subtext in all media use of the brand that states, “A cultural center for the Shenandoah Valley.” The Barns of Rose Hill also agreed not to attempt to block Wolf Trap Foundation’s efforts to trademark, “The Barns.” Ms Lesman said, “I feel that we got 90 to 95 percent of what we wanted. We are going to operate in good faith and let them know what we are doing to meet the terms of the agreement as we do it and I really and truly do not expect any problems.”

For more information on upcoming events at the Barns of Rose Hill visit their website at