Ownership of Old Barn Resort staying in family

“People have expressed relief when they learned that Travis and I and our families have purchased the Old Barn Resort from my parents and that we plan to continue the long tradition this family resort has established,” said Eric Brenna last week.

It was recently announced that Eric and Rhiannon Brenna, sister Jennifer Dundore and brother in law, Travis Dundore, purchased the Old Barn Resort of rural Preston, from Doug Brenna and Shirley Endres. Doug and Shirley have owned the 200-acre resort since 1996 when they purchased it from Vernon Michel.

“Doug and Shirley have continued to build and expand this wonderful resort over the past 20 years,” Travis noted. “We plan to continue offering the family resort experience that has brought persons throughout the area to Fillmore County. We fully understand the importance of 'community.' Area residents appreciate what Vernon Michel and Doug and Shirley have done to promote the area through the Old Barn Resort. The people of Lanesboro, Preston, Harmony and other area communities have worked together to promote tourism for this area. We certainly plan on working with everyone to continue this.” 

Located on the Root River and the Root River State Trail, the Old Barn Resort includes an 18-hole, par-70 golf course, a 276-unit campground, a covered swimming pool, a 38-bed bunk house/hostel, a massive, multi-level restaurant with private party rooms, basement arcade for rainy days, large playground area and much more. 

The Old Barn Resort was named the Best Campground in Southern Minnesota by the Minneapolis Star-Tribune in 2014 and also featured in Midwest Living Magazine.

Travis noted they currently employ 16 persons and credit much of the success of the Old Barn Resort to the very dedicated staff. 

“We have the best employees,” he said. “They are really unbelievable. Many of them have been working here for years and they know all our loyal customers who keep coming back year after year. We won't be making any changes there.”

Eric and his sister, Jennifer, have worked at the Old Barn Resort for many years. Eric spent many summers helping to develop and build the golf course, which was basically carved out of the hardwood forest along the Root River. During the past year, Eric and Travis have been working side by side with Doug and Shirley to “learn the ropes,” as the plan for the change of ownership was in the works. 

“Doug and Shirley have been so helpful in teaching us every aspect of the business,” Travis said. “This business can cater to so many different wants and needs. There are so many things this resort has to offer our customers. And there was so much for us to learn.”

Both the Brenna and Dundore families have young children. Eric and Travis both noted they will continue to develop more family offerings at the resort. A movie night out on the point and getting more involved with the junior golf and high school golfing programs were areas the two hope to develop. 

Vernon Michel purchased the farm with the large historic barn in 1988, just before the official opening of the Root River State Trail between Fountain and Lanesboro. His plans were to restore the barn into a restaurant and develop the surrounding farm area into a campground. Two years later, following extensive remodeling, repairs and new construction, the barn and farm were transformed into the Old Barn Resort, offering a full range of services to passing hikers and bikers as well as to overnight guests. 

Doug and Shirley Endres purchased the property in late 1996 and spent the next 20 years developing the business to a more complete “resort” feel. They added the 18-hole golf course, remodeled the restaurant and bar, made changes to the pool patio area and added a large playground. 

“We are very blessed to have this opportunity,” Eric said. “The scenic beauty of this area and the chance to share this with our families and have our children become more involved with it (if they want) make this an exciting and wonderful opportunity.”

“We hope that we will be able to perpetuate what Vernon Michel created and Doug and Shirley continued to develop,” Travis said. “They all had such a great business plan.”