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The Barn at Bonner Creek


The journey of transforming The Barn at Bonner Creek into a successful wedding venue is nothing short of a remarkable tale. From the early stages of excitement and anticipation to the challenges faced along the way, the story unfolds as a testament to determination, passion, and a touch of serendipity. 

The venture began with a vision shared by the husband-wife duo, Lisa and Don Rouse, seasoned in the art of flipping houses for over two decades. Their decision to venture into the wedding venue business was not just a side gig; it was a full-time commitment born out of a desire to embark on a new chapter of their lives.


Lisa, a stalwart in education, bid farewell to a remarkable 28-year career as a schoolteacher for Brazosport ISD in 2023. Her journey in molding young minds left a permanent mark, but retirement was not a call to rest; it was an invitation to explore new horizons. Don, having dedicated 37 years of service to UPS, embarked on retirement five years ago. Yet, both Lisa and Don shared a common sentiment – the refusal to succumb to a life of idleness.


"We weren't the type to just retire and do nothing,” said Lisa. “We wanted to pursue something on our own that would be both fun, cool and truly exciting. That's when we began contemplating a wedding venue." And so, the seasoned duo, with full-time jobs now retired, set out to transform their dream into reality.


Finding the Perfect Barn


The extraordinary journey started when Lisa’s husband, Don, stumbled upon a barn salvage expert's website during an online search. Intrigued by the idea of preserving history, they traveled to Ohio, exploring barns with stories etched in the past. Meeting a fellow enthusiast who had transformed a barn into a brewery, they gained insights and inspiration. The adventure continued with a trip to Lake Erie, where another barn had found new life as a man cave, surrounded by people who shared a love for history.


The barn they ultimately chose had its roots in 1840, a testament to the history of the land and its evolution through the generations. A chance encounter with Shirley Conkle, an octogenarian guardian of historical knowledge, unveiled the barn's lineage, revealing tales of past owners and unexpected events. This barn was more than wood and beams; it was a living, breathing artifact, a witness to the changing tides of time.


From Ohio to Texas


The decision to transport the barn from Ohio to Houston, Texas was no small feat, and was met with lots of skepticism. However, the couple was determined to turn the naysayers into believers.

The challenges faced during the journey were numerous, starting with the struggle to secure financing. Traditional banks were hesitant to support a project that involved an Amish timber frame barn from 1840 being relocated states away. However, after being turned down from several banks, the couple's perseverance turned the tides, and a private lender, familiar with their track record, stepped in to provide the necessary funding.

The hurdles did not end there. Navigating through county regulations and obtaining permits for a project considered unconventional required teamwork and creativity. The couple's engagement with Brazosport College Small Business Development Center (SBDC) became a crucial part of this process. Jennifer Finney, business advisor and director of the SBDC, not only assisted in crafting a comprehensive business plan to initially secure funding, but also served as a source of encouragement during challenging times.

"SBDC is a very good, educational resource, especially for someone who's never owned their own business,” said Lisa. “They provide resources and information that make you think long and hard about a business plan and whether it’s financially doable. I recommend utilizing the SBDC as a valuable resource, but don’t rely on it as your only resource. If you want your dream to come true and you're not getting the answers that you want, it’s essential to explore alternative avenues and think outside the boxes.”


The support from SBDC, coupled with the couple's unwavering commitment, propelled the project forward. The barn, once a forgotten piece of history in Ohio, became the focal point of Restoration Road with Clint Harp, a Magnolia Network show, capturing the hearts of viewers with its authenticity and character.

Barn's New Life as a Venue

The grand opening of The Barn at Bonner Creek marked the culmination of intense labor, countless hours, and a shared vision. The success story is not just about a barn transformed into a wedding venue; it's about turning dreams into reality, overcoming obstacles, and creating a space where love and celebration intertwine.

As the tale unfolds, the impact of the venture becomes evident. The barn, named after Bonner Creek, that divides the property, now stands as a symbol of community, history, and the spirit of collaboration. The journey, marked by tears, stress, and moments of doubt, ultimately led to a sense of accomplishment and pride.

The success of the venture extends beyond the physical space. The Magnolia Network show catapulted the barn into the spotlight, increasing website hits and drawing inquiries from potential clients as far as South Carolina. The barn, once a hidden gem, is now a sought-after destination for couples seeking a venue with character and history.

In reflecting on the SBDC's role in this journey, the couple acknowledges its significance as an educational tool. For those new to entrepreneurship, SBDC serves as a valuable resource, guiding individuals through the intricacies of business planning and encouraging thoughtful consideration of every aspect.

Lisa’s advice for future business owners considering SBDC's services is clear – leverage it as a resource but don't solely rely on it.

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