Hanover Reserve makes full comeback after devastating fire

BUTLER COUNTY — A Hanover Twp. events center is celebrating its reopening with an open house Saturday after an October 2021 fire forced the venue to close for nearly eight months as the building underwent repair.

After its initial opening in May 2021, Hanover Reserve Weddings and Events operated for five months before a fire originating in a propane fireplace traveled up through the chimney and made its way into the insulation lining the roof during a wedding ceremony in mid-October, according to Melanie Barnes, one of six owners in the family-run business.

The fire and the subsequent hiatus forced the business to reschedule or forfeit around 30 events over the course of the rebuild.

“It’s been a long process but it’s been a good one. We’ve been really fortunate with our contractors,” Barnes said. “We are happy with how it’s gone and we’re happy how quickly we’ve been able to turn around and open our doors again.”

Saturday’s event is meant to be a public celebration of those open doors. The open house will run from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and feature around 20 vendors — caterers, DJs, photographers — that have a professional relationship with the events center.

The repaired building should feel familiar to those who saw it before the fire.

“Everything is pretty much the same as it was before,” Barnes said. “We wanted to keep the building in its beautiful nature; we like the way it looks [and] we really didn’t want to change anything. We did make some modifications to the fireplace area just to ensure that we weren’t going to be dealing with the same problem again.”

The official state investigator has not yet submitted an Origin & Cause report — meaning the investigation is still open through the State Fire Marshal’s office.

Still, public information officer Andy Ellinger told the Journal-News in an email that it was “...an undetermined fire originating in the enclosed structural cavity around the fireplace,” and there is no evidence of criminal intent.

“My whole family was completely distraught with watching our building, and our dream and all of our work burn as we sat on the hill just watching it,” Barnes said. “It was something that you could never prepare yourself for.”

Barnes said the community’s show of support to her and her family in the aftermath of the fire will be impossible to repay.

“I would definitely say we have a lot of friends surrounding us that we know we can depend on, and vice versa,” Barnes said. “We’re ready to have events again. We just are excited to get people back in here, get our doors open and we hope that people come out this Saturday.”

More information about the center and its re-opening celebration can be found at www.HannoverReserve.com.

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