GREEN VALLEY – Gen Bean wasn’t planning on living in central Wisconsin again. For 35 years she’d been in the Twin Cities, where she ran a decorating business.
Bean returned in 2012 to the town of Green Valley, in southern Marathon County about 15 minutes from Marshfield, to care for her ill father, Vernon Piguet, in the farmhouse she lived in as a kid. She left the farm life behind for the Twin Cities after high school.
She is now the fourth generation of the family to live on the 160 acres. But it’s in the restored wooden structure out her north window where she pays homage to her father each day.
She created a new course for the family farm she wanted to escape when she was younger, turning the falling barn into a rustic wedding and events spot.
“I had a vision, but it all started because I didn’t want my dad to watch this barn crumble to the ground,” Gen Bean said. Bean said her dad, who in 2014 died at 86, used to sit on the porch. She wanted to do anything in her power to sustain the barn for him.
Nearly five years later, she has hosted over 30 weddings, held yearly craft sales and other events in the barn her ancestors built with their bare hands in the 1920s. She wants the wedding tradition to continue and hopes to do even more weddings and receptions in the barn.
Bean, 63, uses her experience with the design business to help make the spot beautiful and provide memorable decor for the weddings.She enjoys working with crafts and collecting the trinkets she has on hand for weddings everything from centerpieces for tables to benches.
“Pretty much anything a bride would want, we have on site,” she said.
Her husband, William, keeps up the grounds when he’s finished with his day job at Associated Bank.
Bean said she averages about seven weddings per year and hopes to up that to 10 per summer. And she has done a lot of work on the barn. The nearly century-old barn has a new pine tongue-and-groove dance floor, a redone foundation and a bridge that leads out to a patio area. The exterior is rustic, with the red paint peeling off.
Bean declared when she headed west to Minneapolis that she would never date a farmer. But as she looks out at the barn with corn stalks bristling in the wind just a football field length from the wedding ceremony spot, she smiles knowing her father would be proud the barn and the land is being used to bring happiness.
“I love to entertain,” Bean said. “I planned my friend’s daughter’s wedding and that kind of sparked this idea.” Their wedding venue fell through and they had two months to find a new wedding location. Enter Bean and Lot 671.
“We installed and had electricity on July 3 and the wedding was July 5,” she said. “Down to the wire.”
The name Lot 671 is for the address at 671 Youngs Lane.
Since that first wedding, Bean has had more time to plan weddings and make them special. Each wedding she thinks of her father and the joy she’s still bringing to people on a farm she cherishes.
“I cry at nearly every wedding I do, because so much work goes into it and each one is special,” she said. “To create a great wedding setting, when the ceremony is over I usually cry and then exhale.
“I can’t imagine doing anything else now. I think my dad would be proud of what we’ve been able to do.”