J.D. Sutphin and his business partner, Brian Brady, purchased the Woodland Place event venue in Vinton in January 2018. They celebrated with a ribbon-cutting ceremony with the Vinton Area Chamber of Commerce on September 27.
“We have been overwhelmed by the support of the community and business has been truly incredible so far!” said Sutphin.
“We had been looking at investment opportunities specifically in Vinton and after just one visit we truly fell in love with not just the property, but the chance to continue and expand upon its legacy; it was impossible to pass up,” Sutphin said.
Their website describes Woodland Place as a “historic hidden gem” with a 6,500-square-foot indoor venue sitting on seven acres of “incredible wooded and beautifully landscaped property.”
“We have been actively hosting dozens of weddings, parties, celebrations and more since purchasing the property at the beginning of the year, almost to capacity,” said Sutphin. “We already have about 25 or so weddings alone booked for 2019 so while I would love to eventually add some special events, weddings are definitely our priority right now.”
They invite couples to “prepare for your day in our new bridal suite featuring a marble stage, Tiffany-style mirrors, custom furniture, and mimosa bar. Say your vows on your choice of multiple outdoor placements while your guests enjoy a Blue Ridge sunset, cocktails on our patio, and the sound of the cool breeze through our oak, dogwood, and maple trees.”
In addition to weddings, they have coordinated “some incredible birthday parties, corporate retreats, non-profit fundraisers, and business-to-business functions.”
Sutphin, who is originally from Botetourt County, is the president and owner of Big Lick Entertainment, well-known as a leader in producing events, festivals and fundraisers in the Roanoke Valley and beyond. He is also a singer and songwriter for the country band Low, Low Chariot and a vocalist and guitarist for the rock band Madrone.
Sutphin worked in radio for over a decade as a promotions and marketing director for six radio stations, on air, as an assistant program director, and as a music director.
Brady is also a founding partner of Big Lick Entertainment and a Botetourt native who also owns Green Home Solutions— indoor air quality specialists.
Sutphin’s wife, Samantha, a native of Franklin County, oversees day-to-day operations as general manager.
Dana Boyd, who has been with Woodland Place for several years, continues as part-time assistant.
“The Woodland Place finds the perfect mix of elegance and the rustic, welcoming feel,” said Chamber President Justin Davison. “J.D. Sutphin has done some great work with the upgrades to the building and landscaping. This venue adds such a great option for weddings, business outings, or special events. We are lucky to have such great individuals investing and bringing business to Vinton. I look forward to many more great things coming from working with J.D. and his interest and investment in Vinton.”
Woodland Place started out originally as Lake Drive Swim Club, built on what was part of the Vinyard family dairy farm. The property was purchased by Pat Wingfield in 1960 to build the Briarcliff subdivision and a swim club. At the time there were only a few houses in the area— Niagara Road was just a dirt road.
The facility was first named the Wagon Wheel Room and Briarcliff Swim Club with an actual wagon on the roof. Country and western music and dances were popular at the time. A split rail fence separated the dance floor from the dining area.
Only residents of the surrounding Briarcliff subdivision could become swim club members. The Briarcliff area soon began to fill up with young families who were eager for a place to swim and play.
About 1964 the Willis family bought the property and changed the name to Lake Drive Swim Club. They kept the property for several years, did some interior and exterior renovations, and removed the wagon wheel.
Around 1970 they sold the club to the Leisure Times group who owned three other pools in the Roanoke Valley at Olympic Park, Penn Forest, and Sugar Loaf.
Donald and Juanita Barbour purchased the club in 1973. He was a firefighter with Roanoke City and looking for a business to operate once he retired. They made more improvements to the facility and repaired the tennis courts that had been built on the rear of the property (now a parking area).
The Barbours established the first competition swim teams at the club in the mid-’70s.
Donald Barbour passed away from a heart attack in 1976 at age 44; Juanita kept the swim club and managed all aspects of the business until her retirement in 2004.
Tommy and Karen Wood of Wood’s Service Center Towing & Transportation bought the property in the spring of 2004.
According to Wood around the time the swim club property was up for sale, he and his wife attended some community meetings in Vinton and “heard citizens say that Vinton needed a place where children, teenagers, and adults could go to have banquets, showers, parties, weddings, and other events at a reasonable price.”
Costs for repairing the pool were prohibitive, so the Woods removed the pool and gutted the club building.
“Our vision was to prepare the land and building for people to gather and have a local place to have parties, wedding and sports banquets,” said Wood. “A lot of hard work and long hours went in to the planning and changes that were made. An outside wedding venue area was built.”
The Woods made extensive renovations to the property in 2014-2015, but then Tommy Wood passed away in 2017.
Chris and Keith Duncan of Vinton and Brambleton Computer purchased Woodland Place in 2016; the property was subsequently purchased by Sutphin and Brady this year.
Woodland Place is located at 935 Niagara Road in Vinton.
More information on Woodland Place is available online at www.thewoodlandplace.com or at firstname.lastname@example.org; or by calling 982-9759.