A Farm's Purpose

Ingrid Hopkins Glassmeyer, innkeeper at The Covered Bridge Inn in Lewes, believes weddings should be more than just a one-day affair.

Glassmeyer grew up on the family farm that sits in a triangle of farmland bordered by routes 9, 5, and 24. After 20 years in the veterinary field, she returned home in 2015 to give the inn a new life as a bed-and-breakfast, and happily shares her family’s historic farm with guests who want a memorable “wedding weekend” in a peaceful spot that is minutes away from beaches and shopping.

The farmhouse-turned-inn was built in the 1830s and was bought 150 years ago by William Hopkins, Glassmeyer’s “great (x5) grandfather, as she says in the “history” section of the inn’s website. Ownership of the inn has transferred six times since then, each time to a member of the Hopkins family. 

Glassmeyer says her own memories of the inn begin with her “Uncle Junior,” Alden Hopkins. It was he, Glassmeyer’s great-uncle and one-time state agriculture secretary, who built the covered bridge from which the inn gets its name, in 1985. “He just decided he wanted a covered bridge,” she said, and so he researched the project and came up with the perfect design, a style known as Burr-Truss. It was built over an irrigation channel, which meant that tractors no longer had to go around the channel. 

At that time, Alden Hopkins and his wife, Marilyn, also restored the farmhouse and opened it as the Covered Bridge Farm Guesthouse. 

The farm was later transferred to Glassmeyer’s father, Walter C. Hopkins, who with his uncle took steps to ensure that the property would be preserved forever as farmland. 

With Glassmeyer’s return to her family’s farm, the property has new life as both an inn and wedding venue.

“I put together a business plan and shared it with my family,” she said. Her plan was to utilize the barn and the surrounding property as a location for weddings and receptions, as well as other gatherings.

“Everybody was so onboard,” she said of her family’s reaction to the plan. She recalls that her father said it was as if the barn had been waiting for her to return, to give it new life. The “barn wedding” trend was taking off on Delmarva, and Glassmeyer quickly put her plans into action.

Within a year of her re-imagining the farm’s purpose, Glassmeyer had hosted four weddings at The Covered Bridge Inn. In the process of transforming the inn and barn to complete her vision, she had found a perfect spot in the barn’s loft for wedding party photos, had a bar built in the barn with recycled barn wood, hung chandeliers in the barn, brought ample electrical outlets to the covered bridge for sound equipment, and had put together packages for prospective brides, grooms and guests. She even found a great “man cave” spot, where groomsmen and guests can relax before and after the ceremony.

“One of the best investments we made,” Glassmeyer said, was turning a small milkhouse structure into restrooms; the structure is conveniently placed between the inn and the barn.

Inside the inn, Glassmeyer tailored guest rooms to the varied needs of a wedding party and guests. The first-floor Dairy Cow room, for example, is perfect for older guests or family members, with a walk-in shower (featuring a whimsical cow motif that gives the appearance there is a cow in the shower!) and a view toward the barn area. 

Upstairs, guest rooms are set up to accommodate families or wedding party members. A common room offers a space where guests can relax together; a small refrigerator and a microwave are placed there for handy snack preparation.

The barn itself, built in 1925, is a structural gem, with its distinctive bell-shaped roof and unique construction, credited to Rodney O’Neil, who also built the U.S. Coast Guard Lifesaving Station in Lewes.

While the barn is not air conditioned, 64-inch commercial fans, in addition to natural cross-ventilation, keep the space cool. “Even in August, this place is comfortable,” Glassmeyer said.

Part of the fun, and the challenge, for Glassmeyer has been finding unique and practical ways to use the farm to its fullest for the benefit of wedding parties and guests. “I just love the fact that people get to experience every part of the farm,” she said.

Its countryside setting lends still another benefit: awe-inspiring sights like bald eagles swooping over nearby fields; the sound of wind in the trees; the inviting rockers on the inn’s spacious porch lend an air of relaxation to a busy weekend.

That all-encompassing nature of the inn and farm is what Glassmeyer believes sets the location apart as a wedding venue and what makes it perfect for an extended-stay event. “I want it to be that exclusive weekend experience, rather than crunch that experience into 12 hours in and out,” she said.

At The Covered Bridge Inn, ample parking is included, as are a parking attendant and golf cart. A growing assortment of decorative items  are available from the inn; couples are also welcome to bring their own. 

“It’s a versatile property. What you have is a canvas,” she said. “It’s blank,” and can easily be tailored to each couple’s tastes.

When she returned to her homeplace, Glassmeyer said, she was determined to honor her family’s farming legacy while opening the property to new uses for the next generations. 

“My dad has done a great job of keeping it standing,” she said of the historic barn. “We are reclaiming it and repurposing it for a new chapter.”

The Covered Bridge Inn is located at 30249 Fisher Road, Lewes, DE 19958. For more information, call (302) 542-9605 or visit the inn’s web site at www.thecoveredbridgeinn.com.

– Story & top photograph by Kerin Magill; photography of couple courtesy of J. Nicole Photography