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September 5, 2010

Year-long labor of love turns old tool shed into dance hall

— Woody Peebles of Mooresville can’t seem to find a place to park his cars. First, he built a large garage a few years ago, but then turned the building into a double-decker entertainment space where his two college-aged daughters could bring friends.

Then he parked his cars in an open-air tool shed with a lot of old machinery, but when his daughter, Memory, announced she was getting married last year, she told her dad she wanted the wedding festivities to be in Mooresville.

And she wanted him to turn his tool shed into an old-time dancehall for her reception.

Too bad about those cars.

Woody and his wife, Lyla, set to work immediately to make their daughter’s wedding dreams come true.

On June 29, guests for the Memory Peebles-Jacob Risinger nuptials attended the wedding in Mooresville’s Old Brick Church and, afterward, walked or rode golf carts to “the dancehall.”

Guests couldn’t have guessed that that work that had begun a year earlier with Memory’s announcement, continued up until two hours before the 6 p.m. wedding.

“I was still working at 4 o’clock the day of the wedding,” said Woody. “I had to stop then to get ready. Everything wasn’t perfect but I was the only one who knew it.”

Labor of love

Converting a farm shed into an old-time dancehall was easy in one way. Woody, a collector of antique store fixtures and tin signs — and just about anything of a bygone era – had the furnishings stored in one of many outbuildings.

But how would guests dance on a dirt floor?

Work began by moving considerable machinery and tools to another pole barn. Next, Woody and Lyla restacked several cords of wood that were stored in the shed to form an outside half-wall on the street side.

“We had 30 loads of dirt hauled in to level the floor,” he said. “Next, we did all the wiring for the lights and overhead fans. We worked all day, every day, especially in that last four months while my brother, Brent, ran errands.”

Once the floor was leveled, Woody and Lyla hauled in bricks and began to clean them in preparation for laying a partial brick floor.

“We leveled and laid bricks in 12-foot increments,” he said. “We had 5,500 bricks and had to order 4,000 more,” he said.

The couple eventually had more bricks hauled in until they had 30-by-65 feet of brick floor.

“Three carpenters built the dance floor out of plywood, and then I have this friend who is a sign painter and he painted the floor white with green diagonal squares,” he said. “Our church went with some new tables. They said if I’d make a donation to the library, they would give me their old tables.”

Overhead lighting consists of multiple draped strands of small, clear light bulbs. To add to the elegance, Woody ordered large lengths of heavy white canvas, which were gathered across the top of the main entrance and tied back to the sides like draperies. He had an electrician wire a pair of antique gasoline pumps, which served as torchieres to illuminate each side of the entrance.

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