Fulton City Council approves Rock Barn bid

Fulton men plan to preserve barn, grow grapes for local wineries

The historic rock barn located across from the Fulton State Hospital campus could be a vineyard as early as spring 2015 based on a bid proposal approved at the Tuesday Fulton City Council meeting.

The historic rock barn located across from the Fulton State Hospital campus could be a vineyard as early as spring 2015 based on a bid proposal approved at the Tuesday Fulton City Council meeting. Photo by Brittany Ruess.

Two local men plan to transform the historic rock barn previously on the Fulton State Hospital campus into a vineyard within the next couple years.

The Fulton City Council selected the $20,000 bid from Shawn Edgar and Chad Warren of Fulton at its regular meeting Tuesday. The city currently owns the rock barn and the more than 12 acres it sits on, which was purchased in January 2013.

Their first plan of action is to clean the barn, according to a letter Edgar wrote to Mayor Leroy Benton.

"With the history of our town, we hate to see this barn go into the hands of someone that will eventually tear it down," Edgar wrote.

In the letter, Edgar lays out vineyard details. The vineyard will be located on the back half of property and will be planted in the spring of 2015 at the earliest. Edgar states that he and Warren contacted an expert from the University of Missouri who has advised them, and planting may start a year later based on how the terrain determines the time and involvement of preparing the land for grapes.

He also stated the specific grape they will harvest — Norton.

"It is a grape that is native to Missouri and is increasing in popularity all over the country," Edgar wrote. "Our intent with the vineyard is to become a supplier for wineries in the area."

The grapes will take three to four years to harvest, according to Edgar.

After the vineyard is up and running, they plan to begin restoring the barn, but the use is undetermined. Options are an event center for weddings, receptions, banquets, etc. and a winery exclusive to Missouri wines.

"There are a number of possibilities and we want to make sure that we turn the property into something that Fulton and the surrounding area can benefit from," Edgar wrote.

Fulton City Council's other bidder was from a Steedman couple that intended to turn the rock barn into a museum. They offered to pay $18,000.

According to the bid proposal, the museum would "offer history of not only the use of the barn for dairy products for (Fulton State Hospital) and the smaller building for rendering soap, etc., but also of the other buildings and treatments offered there..."

Within five years of purchase, the couple envisioned the property hosting a community garden to benefit food pantries and local restaurants. The couple also had the idea to open up the rock barn as an event space.

"I think both are very interesting and nice proposals ... Both fit into our desire on what to do with the property," Councilman Steve Moore said before the council took the 6-0 vote.

Councilman Mike West also said he felt the bidders' "hearts are in the right place with both," but suggested the council vote for the $20,000 bid because of the higher price tag.

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