A Home with Memory: Seven Oaks Bed & Breakfast

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This is a guest post from High Point Discovered. View the original story here.

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Nestled away from the noise of the city on a stretch of green grass and stately trees is a hideaway so cozy it feels like it could be a retreat miles from any town. But right here in High Point, Seven Oaks Bed and Breakfast delivers on a relaxing getaway with all the convenience of our city. Since Ron and Jenny Barker opened their house to guest lodging, visitors have gotten a taste of High Point hospitality and home whether they’ve come from far away or just down the road.

Before Jenny and Ron began offering four bedrooms and three extended stay accommodations, they were a furniture market love story. Both found themselves working the market–Ron was working as a marketing director for SCP Studios when a lovely lady passing out magazines caught his eye.

“I walked up to her because she was just really pretty and I’ve just got to walk up to this really pretty girl and at least get a magazine. And that was gonna be the extent of it. Then we started talking and the rest is history,” says Ron.

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Ron & Jenny Barker, Owners of Seven Oaks Bed & Breakfast

The history in question? A wedding in 2004, and the construction of the Barker’s family home in 2007. The age of the B&B home surprises many guests, who assume the older style is a result of renovation, but Jenny’s love of the old farmhouse charm led her to putting what she calls “a modern twist to an older home.” For guests, this means being able to spend time relaxing on the porch and soaking in the scenery while also being able to wind down with a reliable shower, a big television, and floorboards that don’t creak.

Jenny and Ron’s house is also modeled on the joy their family found being able to visit Jenny’s mother, and enjoy the comforts of staying together at grandma’s house without tripping over anybody else.

Jenny says, “I wanted a house that was similar to hers, that has a very homey feel and was big enough to where you could have everybody over for gatherings.”
So with blueprints in hand and a beautiful, historic plot of land, their home was ready to be built. Jenny describes that fateful day when the transformation into a home began.

“In 2007, I think the hottest day in May so far, the hottest day of the year, they started digging the foundations,” she says. “And the house had been finished for two weeks when we moved in, two weeks before Christmas in 2007.”

For a while the Barkers lived their happily ever after, but as children tend to do, the three Barker boys grew up and went off to begin their own journeys. Once a bustling home, the house was now a trio of spare bedrooms, and Jenny and Ron found themselves to be empty nesters.

“We looked at each other and said, ‘What now?’” Jenny remembers.

On August 17th 2011, the Barkers took their first guests into their newly established bed and breakfast. They went from a family home to accommodating guests through the advice of a friend in the community who realized what a good fit their house would be for a bed and breakfast. Mena Parish, the manager of JH Adams Inn at the time, encouraged them upfront, and continued supporting their venture by sending her overflow to the Seven Oaks Bed and Breakfast. With community support and minimal bumps in the road, the Barkers’ question of “what now” became a new adventure that they transitioned to with unexpected ease.

“It was just interesting how it flowed well as a bed and breakfast, which was never conceived of,” Ron says.

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Though it may have come from an unexpected place, the Barkers have taken their new life direction in stride, and have created an atmosphere of absolute comfort for guests needing a shelter from all kinds of chaos. And in their unique position, Jenny and Ron have created a type of stay that is more than just a cozy nook, but a direct link to the High Point community as well.

From people just passing through who are finally granted a truly restful night’s sleep to furniture market folks who can take the stress of being a lone traveler right off their plate, Seven Oaks sees it all.

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“That’s one of the reasons why bed and breakfasts are so good, is because they have the opportunity to cater to that individual person,” Jenny says.

The High Point special touch is a part of that individual catering too. Ron notes that all of the mattresses in Seven Oaks are High Point manufactured. And on the breakfast side of B&B, the local flavor is even more literal.

“We provide produce from the farmer’s market. Peaches are coming in right now, which folks are really enjoying. A lot of people would’ve not gotten any had we not brought them in,” Ron says of the summer season at Seven Oaks.

While Seven Oaks might already sound like a paradise, (and you wouldn’t be the first to take a staycation even if you already live in High Point), with their extended stay cottage, trailer, and ADA friendly cottage, the options to take a getaway go above and beyond. The comforts of the main home are not lost on the extended stay facilities.

“The nice thing about that is, number one is you’ve still got that homey feel. You’re not stuck in a hotel somewhere. You’ve got your own personal parking space with your own little area that’s quiet, that’s relaxing, and that’s secure,” Jenny says.

Ron and Jenny, with their kind of space, and their beautiful property, have welcomed all kinds of guests, and held all kinds of occasions. From honeymoons for the young or old, to weddings, family reunions, funeral gatherings, furniture market workers, and folks moving into High Point, every season of life has been supported by the attentive care of the Barkers.

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“That’s one of the reasons why bed and breakfasts are so good, is because they have the opportunity to cater to that individual person.”

Jenny Barker, Co-owner of Seven Oaks Bed & Breakfast

Watching over it all through the changing seasons of life have been the oak trees. The Barkers, in building their home and their legacy have entered into a line of history nestled between the oak trees. Situated on a historic tobacco farm, Jenny and Ron have curated their knowledge of the past under their feet. Where the historical documentation of the location stops, Jenny can only wonder if the oak trees felt so integral to the past owners, an African American man who owned and worked the tobacco farm, to the Cole family that still holds memories of playing in the shade of the trees.

“Maybe one day while he was out there working the land, he stopped underneath that tree to eat lunch or to reflect and his kids were able to play underneath that tree. A tree, if it could talk, could tell so much,” Jenny says.

In a clearing where seven oak trees stand, Seven Oaks Bed and Breakfast may seem on the surface to be a perfectly simple name. To the Barkers, however, this tree in particular, standing for generations, held a depth of meaning that is both sentimental and universal.

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The preserved oak tree on the Seven Oaks’ property.

Guests of the bed and breakfast will often find themselves being encouraged to take part in the tradition of spending some time under the tree out in the yard, reflecting on love, life, and the memories that have helped their roots grow. While Jenny’s most beloved tree has fallen, the Barkers are taking steps to preserve that special tree, just as they encourage their guests to fully immerse in renewing their memories.

“Trees have a lot of meaning to me because they’re subjected to all the weather, the wind, and everything – but they stand tall and strong and they can weather anything,” says Jenny. “Ron and I have had different things go on in our life, just like other people do, and have had trials and troubles. And it was sort of like the oak tree was my life. So when the tree fell, it was part of me that kind of fell too.”

The oak tree in question was the favorite of those historical trees that stood out as a central namesake for Seven Oaks. Their own son even got married under that tree, so the special sentiments extend beyond their bed and breakfast right into the heart of the Barker family. After the tragic fall, the Barkers knew they had to preserve the legacy they had grown alongside. Jenny stripped the bark of the tree and placed it back up under a new awning so that the tree can remain a symbol of the history of their land, a centerpiece for events, and a place for personal reflection.

Even while the final touches of restoration take place for the special tree, Seven Oaks still maintains its reputation as the bed and breakfast that can transform a stay or an event into an everlasting moment of love and peace. Jenny described a monarch butterfly program she participated in, planting special butterfly plants to support their migration, which ultimately became an unforgettable occasion for a wedding on the grounds.

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The Barkers’ daughter-in-law was married on the property during butterfly hatching season, when the new monarchs were just preparing to take their first flights. When the butterflies were released at the wedding, they fluttered around the party, adding an element of significance that the family will treasure forever.

The magic of that moment was enough to put aside the loss of that particular tree and experience a new kind of enchanting family memory. As the preservation of the namesake tree is completed, the beauty of the grounds and the experiences created within still remain at the forefront of the Barkers’ minds. At Seven Oaks Bed and Breakfast, much of the comfort the Barkers find their guests indulging in is the quiet, peaceful, contemplative atmosphere surrounding a home where the trees stand tall and fond remembrance comes easy.

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