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Tents provide alternate venue when lightning strikes

Project Briefs | October 1, 2010 | By:

Collaboration and dedication combine to create an alternate venue for hopeful brides and grooms.

Though business is business and bottom lines matter, the heart of the tent rental and event industry is focused on creating venues that reflect the importance of clients’ events. Marquee Tents and the Barr Mansion, both of Austin, Texas, know what it means to rally and make events happen for their clients—on schedule and with the elegant details clients expect.

“It was a dark and stormy night … it really was,” says Carlos Martinez, rental consultant for Marquee Tents. He was referring to a night in early June 2010 when storms rolled across Austin, and lightning struck Barr Mansion’s historic 200-year-old barn that was used for receptions—and it burned to the ground. Three hours after the blaze began, Mark McAfee, co-owner of the Barr Mansion, called Martinez to enlist Marquee’s help in erecting a tent so the brides and grooms scheduled to use the barn for their wedding receptions would not be disappointed. A wedding was scheduled for the venue in three days and the staff from Barr Mansion was determined to have a suitable replacement for the historic barn ready in time for the event.

“A team of us arrived at the Barr Mansion at about 7:30 in the morning, just three hours after the lightening strike,” Martinez says.“Fire trucks were still there pouring water on the smoldering parts of the building. Ash embers and bits of straw from the thatch roof were falling, along with the rain.” Martinez and his crew began taking measurements, working around the areas that were blocked by the fire department. Taking into account the need to set up the tent in such a way as to block views of the reconstruction, the team from Marquee drew up plans to erect a 20-by-15-meter Losberger tent, complete with clear sides on two walls, three sets of French doors, flooring, ceiling treatments and wall drapery.

The tent would be in place for several months—however long it would take for the Barr Mansion to have the barn replaced—and Martinez was concerned about ceiling treatments. “We were concerned about bugs. You can install a tent liner for an event for a day or even a week but for several months? We wanted another solution,” he says. “Our sewing staff made a ceiling treatment out of ribbon—and they did it in less than 36 hours.” Martinez purchased laminate flooring to create a cost-effective rustic look that set the tone for the decor. Staff from the Barr Mansion completed the decor with floral arrangements and the two teams worked together on the lighting. The result was a charming, rustic venue in a short amount of time—and not a single couple had to reschedule because of the fire.

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