Angela, one of the wedding consultants at Highgrove, told me last year that their huge ballroom tent was going to be transformed into a permanent structure with windows all around and a fireplace at the far end. Curiosity got the best of me and I took a trip down to Fuquay Varina last Thursday to see for myself how the construction was coming along. The photo above was taken of the mansion in 2004.
The two photos above were taken before a wedding in 2004. The landscaping had not matured at that point and the vines had not yet grown onto the portico.
I have been doing weddings at Highgrove since they opened almost 10 years ago. I believe I officiated the first or second wedding they had there. The estate was originally the home of a prominent dentist in Fuquay Varina. When the property went on the market, two enterprising women (Maria and Vickie) bought the old place and turned it into a gorgeous wedding venue--one of the loveliest around. I love doing weddings there. I remember when they started out, there was no patio or tent in the backyard. There was only the portico and steps. Then they added the concrete patio and base for their large ballroom tent and put in beautiful landscaping. They enlarged the kitchen and the dining room and eventually transformed the bedrooms and bathrooms upstairs where the bride and her bridesmaids get ready and a holding room for the groom and his groomsmen!Erin and Tom was September 2010. Note the vines on the portico and the larger bushes framing the steps. In addition to adding the garden ballroom, they are also extending the portico on both sides and altering the seating area configuration to accommodate 200 guests.
Here are Tom and Erin and their rather large wedding party. This was taken on the front porch. (You can view other weddings I officiated at Highgrove since 2008 here.) I did not realize that the exterior of the mansion was vinyl siding. In addition to building the Garden Ballroom, the owner has removed the vinyl siding and restored the original clapboard exterior. It looks better than ever. They also have expanded the kitchen again.
Maria, one of the original owners, built Chateau Bellevie on the adjacent property a few years ago which is a bed and breakfast and where smaller weddings can be held.
So, this is how the mansion looked last Thursday. There was a big pile of discarded white siding in the parking lot and the house looked pristine!
From the parking lot, you can see the new ballroom where the tent used to be. It is every bit as big and spacious. I walked around to the back to see what it looked like from the patio area.
This is the grand entrance from the patio. The patio will be bricked over in a pattern that will reflect the unusual pattern of the glass fretwork in the entrance and be continuous with the brick steps to the portico. No more loud A/C unit blowing us as we enter for the wedding and interfering with the music. Yay!
As I was wandering around out back taking a few photos, Susan Blakeslee, stepped out of the house. Susan has been in the wedding industry for many years and has recently joined the Highgrove staff. It was good to see her. She graciously took me inside the ballroom for a good look and so I could get some photos!
Here's the fireplace. That is such a wonderful new feature for this ballroom. I forgot to ask what the floor covering would be but I know they will have a large dance floor and of course the beautiful chandeliers like they had in the tent. They also plan to drape the ceiling like the tent as well.
This is the tent last September. The new ballroom will be just as beautiful and more! I am looking forward to my first wedding there this year on May 14th. There is also an announcement on Highgrove's blog that there will be an Open House to showcase the new Garden Ballroom on April 30 from 10AM to 1PM. I will probably be there since I have a wedding at Chateau Bellevie that day and that they still have a few openings for 2011 weddings!