EDITOR’S NOTE: This story originally appeared in Heart of Ohio Magazine in 2013. It is being republished through a cooperative agreement with Ashland Source. To read more stories on Heart of Ohio Magazine log on at www.heartofohiomagazine.com.
A tree house, a free house, a secret you and me house. A high up in the leafy branches, cozy as can be house.
— Shel Silverstein
As a boy, Kevin Mooney regularly came from Cleveland to visit and spend time with his good friend, Bobby Charvat. The two boys wandered and explored and grew to be young men on the 300 acres of land Bobby’s family owned in the Loudonville area.
It was an experience that shaped Kevin Mooney’s life. As a grown man, he returned to camp and de-stress on the land with his own wife and four children.
“I wanted our kids to know the joy of being outdoors, enjoying the sunshine and the land. There’s something magical about it. For people to be good stewards of the land, they need to connect with the land,” Kevin said.
Eventually, Kevin bought 17 acres of land in the area, fixing up the two trailers that were sitting on the property.
“It gave us a few amenities, like running water,” he chuckled.
The trailers also gave the Mooneys a place to invite friends and family to come and enjoy the outdoors. When 58 adjoining acres became available, he bought that, too.
The Mooneys built a cabin on the grounds, one that had all the comforts of home and enough room to invite guests to stay and soak in the beautiful views afforded by the property. The first cabin, named “The Mohican,” seemed to light a creative spark in Kevin’s mind.
“I decided I wanted to give other people the opportunity to enjoy this beautiful place,” he said.
The idea for The Mohicans was forming. Soon after that, Jody Christiansen, who owns Tree Frog Canopy Tours, shared a book with Kevin. It was called New Treehouses of the World, written by Pete Nelson. Kevin was so taken with the idea of adding treehouses to the compound that he flew the author out to look at the property. He commissioned Pete Nelson to design his first treehouse, and Kevin’s Amish carpenters finished it in just eight days.
Three more cabins joined the first, and then the Grand Barn Wedding & Event Center was added to accommodate weddings and corporate events.
Melissa Elswick, Event Manager at The Mohicans, said, “The Grand Barn Wedding & Event Center was quickly discovered by brides; the most popular weddings right now are barn weddings. We booked ten weddings very quickly with brides who had just found us on the internet. We actually booked three weddings without the brides even visiting the facility due to the fact that they were out of state and did not want to lose the date to another bride.”
Finally, a second treehouse was designed by Pete Nelson and built by his guys and Kevin’s Amish carpenters. It was featured on a reality show called Treehouse Masters that aired on the Discovery Channel, Animal Planet and TLC. The episode featured Pete building a treehouse for the Treehouse Brewing Company. After the airing, the demand to sleep in the treehouse was so great that it was converted into a livable space that can now be rented.
Today the brewery can be found in the basement of The Grand Barn Wedding & Event Center, where brides & corporate outings can brew their own beer.
Visiting The Mohicans, you can only wonder what might be next. The sweeping views, the rustic but elegant accommodations, all seem to be waiting for the next chapter to begin.
Melissa says there may be a village of treehouses in the future with up to ten treehouses. The Treehouse Brewing Company being constructed in the Grand Barn Wedding & Event center will eventually showcase the Mooney’s love of craft beers and feature their own beers for tasting. On another piece of property, Kevin is now renovating a 100-year-old barn to accommodate those who wish to have events in a more “back-to-nature” setting. It is called The Rustic Barn at The Mohicans. The possibilities, and the ideas, seem endless.
The project is a testament to the Mooney’s efforts to be in tune with the land wherever possible. In several places, there are trees growing undisturbed through the outdoor deck flooring. The wood used in the cabins, treehouses and Grand Barn Wedding & Event center was cut and milled from the property. Wherever possible, doors and windows have been recycled in keeping with the family’s take/make/reuse green philosophy.
When the Mooneys decided they needed a liquor license for the Grand Barn Wedding & Event Center, everyone said it just couldn’t be done. Armed with his can-do attitude, Kevin went door to door with a petition to meet his neighbors and explain his plans for The Mohicans. Not only did he get the petition signatures he needed, but everyone who signed it got an invitation to a big get-together in the Grand Barn Wedding & Event Center.
“Kevin and his wife Laura are good stewards of the land, and they are anxious to share their dream with everyone who wants to come here. We are surrounded by beauty and things to do; the zipline, canoeing, mountain biking, hiking, horseback riding. The accommodations in the region range from campsites to luxury cabins and treehouses. Wally Road is a State Scenic Byway that connects with the Holmes County Amish National Byway and the Gateway to Amish County Byway. Wally Road also runs along the State Scenic Mohican River and water trail. It’s a vacationer’s dream,” Melissa said.
Visit www.themohicancabins.com to rent one of the Mohican Cabins or Treehouses. For more information on the Grand Barn Wedding & Event Center, please visit themohicangrandbarn.com. Located at 22650 Vess Road in Glenmont, Ohio. To contact by phone, call 440-799-3419.
UPDATE: There is a free 2016 Fall Bridal Show at The Grand Barn on Sunday, Sept. 11 from noon to 5 p.m. Take a tour of the Grand Barn Event Center and the grounds of The Mohicans nestled in the heart of the green rolling hills of the Mohican Valley. Meet the staff and outstanding vendors, sample their offerings and make plans to have your dream wedding at The Grand Barn.
All photos used for this article courtesy of Nicole Miller and Melissa Conrad.