Pa. wedding venue targets those who love history

GLENVILLE (AP) – With its stone walls, wood beam ceiling and hardwood floors, The Stone Mill 1792 looks like a country inn one might come across bicycling through the French countryside.

Instead, the building, built as a paper mill in 1792 and used in recent years as a gift shop, is nestled alongside the Codorus Creek on 10 acres in Glenville in southern York County.

Owners Pam Hepner and her husband Joe Hepner have refurbished the place into a venue for weddings and other special events. They see their market as brides-to-be from York to Gettysburg to Baltimore looking for a slice of history to go with their slice of wedding cake.

“They want the feel, the character of an old, historic building,” said Pam Hepner, 56. Hepner is also targeting brides who want a “more natural, more laid-back” location for their big day.

A second-floor sunroom with a view of Codorus Creek can seat 50 people for wedding ceremonies. The lawn can accommodate 175 guests with a pond as the backdrop for the ceremony.

The Hepners, who live in Manchester, Md., in Carroll County, bought the building at auction in November 2012. They spent months refurbishing it.

“The building had a good base to work with but everything needed hands on it,” said Joe Hepner, 57, the president of Carroll Commercial Carpentry, which has renovated historic buildings in Baltimore.

The Hepners opened a first-floor boutique in November 2013 that sells jewelry, pottery and other handmade craft items.

They have already booked three weddings with the first scheduled for September. They hope to see additional business from an event scheduled for July 26 to showcase the building and grounds to wedding planners.

The Stone Mill 1792 comes along at a time when some brides are looking for unique wedding locales, something different than a country club or hotel ballroom.

Taryn Blake, a Manchester Township wedding and event planner, said many of her clients are looking for wedding locations that are “off the beaten path” and which they can customize with their own personal touches.

“They don’t want to be married in the same place where all their high school and college friends got married,” said Blake, who owns Taryn Blake Events.

The Stone Mill 1792 is one of several wedding venues opened or planned for York County.

Wyndridge Farm in Dallastown is renovating a 120-year-old barn into a 275-seat, climate-controlled venue for weddings and other events. Wyndridge Farm owners Steve and Julie Groff expect to open the venue, as well as a tasting room for Wyndridge’s craft cider and sodas, on Labor Day. Even before the barn’s opening, Wyndridge Farm has booked 25 weddings so far for 2014 and 2015, Steve Groff said.

And Bond Development Group, which includes Josh Hankey, the president of Susquehanna Renovations, plans to put a wedding and events venue in the former Bond Sanitary Products building in York’s Royal Square neighborhood.

Even with the new additions, York County isn’t in danger of becoming oversaturated with places to hold a wedding, said Betsy Kohr, a local wedding and events planner. The county, because of its central location, can draw brides-to-be from Baltimore and Philadelphia, as well as locally, said Kohr, the owner of B Kohr Designs in Wrightsville.

And “having something historical is appealing to brides because it has a lot of character,” Kohr said.

The Stone Mill 1792’s historic appeal is what attracted Nikki Hardenbrook to book it for her wedding on Oct. 4.

“I wanted something timeless and 1792, how more timeless can you get?” said Hardenbrook, 28, a certified nursing assistant from Loganville. Hardenbrook’s wedding ceremony will be held outdoors on the lawn before about 100 family members and friends.

Hardenbrook’s parents live in Glenville, and she had passed the building many times.

Once she checked it out, Hardenbrook knew it was the place she wanted to get married. It has the feel of a less complicated era that she was looking for.

“It was like finding the perfect dress,” she said. “I didn’t look at any options after that.”