Written by Chris Hari, photographed by Bruce Hari, older photos provided by the Lowrys
The story of the Barn at Faith Farms is one of vision, flexibility, creativity, faith, and hard work. Above all else, it is a story of love.
It began with a “love at first sight” moment for James Lowry. He was a new employee at Ag-Central when he spotted a beautiful young woman also working there. Right then and there the usually level-headed James, told a co-worker, “one day I will marry that girl.” And, a few years down the road, he did marry Marissa Shamblin. James owned 22 acres of land adjacent to his parents, Mike and Tammie Lowry, in Niota. It is a beautiful pastoral setting bordered by a creek with a huge rambling old Osage Orange Tree dominating a grassy field. There was no doubt in the couple’s minds that this is where they would live, and that it would be a unique and meaningful experience to be married in their future home. The plan was to build a shell of a barn for the wedding, and turn it into a home with a lot of rustic open space and a view of the creek.
The Lowry/Shamblin wedding occurred according to plan in the shell of a barn built large enough to accommodate very large parties. It was after the wedding that the plan abruptly changed course. When the couple arrived home from a short honeymoon, they were bombarded with requests from people who had attended their wedding and would dearly love to have their special day in such a magical setting.
Says James, “We believed that the Lord had put this in our path, and with hard work and faith, it would all fall into place.” The Lowrys moved to a small house in town, and finished the barn – and their home adjacent to it. James and Marissa did much of the work themselves. Growing up, James’ Papaw, Jim, and his dad, Mike, taught him how to build. “I look back and remember all the good times we had working together. In fact, Faith Farms is the name of Papaw’s farm near Kingsport.”
While they worked on their construction bookings kept coming in. The Barn they built is both breathtaking and inviting with its natural wood ceilings, whitewashed barn wood walls, big framing timbers, and open floor plan. The décor is the result of Marissa’s taste and creativity. It is a cross between elegant antiques and rustic country
furniture resulting in an atmosphere that is at once enchanting and cozy. James and Marissa personally work every event and have learned from each one. Their “hands-on” approach has given them great insight into what it takes to make each event a blessing. To this end, Faith Farms continues to grow. The first addition was a cozy and comfortable rustic home complete with kitchen, full baths, and separate dressing rooms for the bridal party and groomsmen. The “Guest Nest,” as Marissa calls it, also accommodates overnight stays on the eve and day of the wedding.
A large deck in back of the barn was added to accommodate overflow of people and allow outdoor space for dancing and visiting. Currently, James and Marissa are creating a covered “courtyard area” out from the deck featuring a 105 foot long stacked stone
fireplace. The couple often works well into the night after working all day to accomplish their dreams.
The Lowrys plan to progress and grow through the years, “Lord willing, or however He sees fit.” On the horizon they plan to build a separate cabin for groomsmen including a pool table, TV, and kitchenette; and a gift shop built to look like a country church with a steeple. The shop will add yet another option for a wedding site in addition to the Barn, The Osage Orange Tree, and Creekside. They also plan to landscape the entire acreage with different garden focal points, pebble walkways, and a centrally located fountain.
The Barn at Faith Farms has already grown beyond James and Marissa’s wildest imaginations. Says James, “If I didn’t have Marissa, I wouldn’t want all this. It’s too much without having someone to share it with.” He went on to say, “life is about progression– it’s leaving a legacy.” The couple then revealed that they are expecting their first child. It will take quite a large family to keep up with the Lowry’s “work in progress,” which may eventually need to change its name to “The Village at Faith Farms” to reflect all there is to offer.
For further information on The Barn at Faith Farms, visit: thebarnatfaithfarms on Facebook.