Not far from downtown Yanceyville, maybe 20 minutes, is the farming community of Prospect Hill. It’s home to tobacco fields, fishing ponds and a half-dozen old-timey churches.
Ridgeville Rd. cuts right through the eastern half of Prospect Hill and it’s quite a scenic drive with the open land and restored old homes. Pastoral would be an accurate description.
About a half-mile southeast off Ridgeville is a popular wedding milieu that goes by the name of Carver Lake Venue. Its beauty and quiet privacy present well to the local wedding market.
“Ernest Carver bought this property, 150 acres, in 1937. His nickname was” Shotgun” and most people knew him by that. Everybody back then had a nickname,” explained Patty Moore Carver, co-owner of Carver Lake Venue with husband, Tommy. “Mr. Ernest’s dad told him ‘You will never pay for that land ($1500), but Shotgun purchased the land, and he did eventually pay for it,” said Ms. Carver last Friday. She and her “help,” Mia Bozeman (her grandson’s girlfriend), were setting up for a dress rehearsal dinner and a Saturday afternoon wedding.
“Shotgun” was one of the first in this area to have a tractor and he would actually “keep up the road” out there. It was a state road, SR 1721, at the time and when they began naming the roads, they named it Carver after him. After we got married in 1980, Tommy and I moved onto the edge of the property. His grandaddy gave us a one and-half acres.”
Eventually, in the early 90’s, the Carver’s inherited all the land, but had never really done anything with it. They leased a little bit out for farming and that was it.
“My son got married in 2014 and at his wedding people, who knew what we had here, were saying, ‘Y’all have the perfect place for a venue. Why don’t you build a venue on your property?”’
The Carvers had done some entertaining on their property after building a little campsite, where they would string up lights, set up folding chairs, and have a little Port-o-John comfort station. “We had our family gatherings there for about ten or 12 years. My niece got married in 2015 and some of those same people came, our church family came, and they repeated, ‘you guys have the perfect place to do a venue!’” laughed Ms. Carver.
“All we really had was land and the campsite we had worked on. But, when we got home that night, me and my husband sat down on the couch and agreed we had to start thinking about our financial future. Both of us worked jobs that didn’t offer retirement. Tommy is a sawyer (a person that saws timber for a living) at Fulp Lumber in Stoneville, NC. I’ve been in sales of home interiors, insurance and property management for the last 30 years.”
“After we decided to see what the bank would let us borrow, then we knew what we could do. And when you start doing something, usually you don’t know what it’s going to cost. I went to a Google marketing class, and they recommended that whatever you think it’s going to cost, add 20% because that’s what it’s going to wind up being.”
So, the Carvers started building their “venue” in 2016 and built it all themselves with family and friends. Mr. Carver cut all the wood for the barn at the Fulp plant and transported it 60 miles back to Prospect Hill in 90-minute hauls.
The new structure was framed with almost all poplar lumber except for some of the weather-stained paneling, which was re-claimed wood from an old barn on the property.
“We have had a lot of community support like that gift of an ornamental wagon wheel hanging up there in the rafters; that was given to us by our friend Derek Watson and was his granddaddy’s. It’s from a big hay rake.”
The family work crew included the Carver’s two sons, Jonathon and Chad Carver, who helped hang the heavy trusses to support the big barn’s construction. They also used a tractor and a forklift to get the frames as high as the forks would lift them. Anything higher was done by hand using wooden scaffolding they erected themselves.
Most the lumber that was used in this five-year project, the “crew” hand-carried from trailer to barn.
“We ‘pulled’ all the electrical wire ourselves and had a local electrician, Paul Stahls, install what we couldn’t. We would work our day jobs and be down here working until 11 o’clock at night. We’d work here every Saturday and Sunday if the weather was good, too” added Ms. Carver.
“I had done a lot of the landscaping, but when this barn was just poles in the air, we were already selling it! We were showing people our dream and we booked a wedding for April! Now we had a deadline to meet! Luckily, we had beautiful weather that winter and were working in short sleeves out here; we finished, and the wedding went off as planned.”
She added, “Currently, we’re in our busiest season and month, which is always September. In this business, you must advertise, and I do a lot of mine through Facebook. We didn’t have a lot of money to buy advertising because we were paying for the place. You have to make the best of your budget and that meant using all the free advertising we could get.
“Google got me signed up with them and our name got out there. I learned how to keep our name at the top of the list when people searched online for wedding venues. Then after we started getting people here, it became ‘word of mouth’, which has been a huge asset for us.”
The huge all-wooden barn, itself, is 64’ x 40’ with a concrete floor. There is roomy canvas tent outside where many of the caterers set up for meal service. There is no real working kitchen, but there is a “washroom” where dishes and utensils can be washed and cleaned.
Carver Lake Venue can comfortably seat about 120 guests inside the barn. They’re considered an indoor-outdoor facility and depending on the weather, can seat another 60 in the white tent. Guests favor using the expansive grounds for a relaxing stroll among our trees and beautiful lake.”
“Most of our wedding parties range from between 75 and 125 people. Our guest parking lot is close by and there is handicapped parking conveniently located next to the barn.”
“A lot of times when people come out here, they may have other places they want to look at before they make a decision and that’s always wise. If I’m going to call and get new tires, I’m going to check with two or three other places before I buy them,” smiled Ms. Carver.
“If people are going to book a wedding, it’s usually done a year or two ahead of time. Our fall season always fills up and spring is a good time, too, and I can tell you; all our weddings are unique in their own way. We have about 14 wedding left to do this year.”
The Carvers employ a coordinator, Michele Griffin, for the weddings and critical timelines that need to be met. She works with the bride and her family to make sure all their needs are met, and the event goes smoothly and without a hitch. “I’m also on site and I’m Michele’s help for whatever needs to be done to keep “on schedule.” I’m also a ‘people person’ and like to mingle with people here and make them feel welcome. I make sure they leave here at Carver Lake with every expectation met,” emphasized Ms. Carver.
An easy way to check that out is by pulling up their website and reading their customer’s reviews. The answer is “yes.”
For more information contact Patty Moore Carver, 1101 Carver Lake Rd., Prospect Hill. NC 27314 at 336-260-0629 or consult the