Skip to content


October 5, 2012


It’s finished, completed, done and ready for your next event! It’s hard to believe just a short six months ago our open air pavilion was nothing more than a tractor shed. The completion date was September 13th and our first event was held there… September 13th. It’s a great feeling knowing you’ve built something that is already being utilized and serving its purpose. Since then, we’ve had four events in our new space, two were weddings, one due to inclement weather. Even though it wasn’t the bride’s first choice, there is such a sense of relief knowing there is an alternate space for your big day. Not to mention the view is spectacular!

We’ve already booked fundraisers, class reunions, wedding receptions and are looking to host your Christmas party or next corporate outing. Now, you’re probably curious about seeing the space and I have just the opportunity! Thursday evening, November 15th, we’re holding an open house from 5:00-8:00. Don’t let this wonderful, free night pass without your attendance! Food will be served by our in house caterer, along with a few other select vendors, to make this night extra special. Please contact me at or 336.937.4568 with any questions you may have. I look forward to hearing from each of you!


Meet Me because I want to meet you!

March 28, 2012

 Iʼm extremely excited to be writing my first blog on behalf of Willow Oaks Plantation.Embarking on a new journey here, I canʼt think of a better way to begin than letting you know a little bit about myself. Hopefully once you learn about me I can get the chance to meet each of you. Whether youʼre a bride, hunter, farmer, or outdoor enthusiast we would love to have you out to the plantation.

I grew up in the small town of Gibsonville, North Carolina. Itʼs tucked away just off of highway 85 in between Greensboro and Burlington. A large amount of my childhood was spent playing in the woods with my older brother and neighborhood friends, spending time at the lake, or playing soccer.

I graduated from Northeast Guilford High School and headed to the city of Charlotte for college. While at University of North Carolina at Charlotte I played club soccer and was also a member of Alpha Delta Pi sorority.  Holding leadership positions in both, I was always busy. Iʼm a person of little “down time.”

Directly after graduation I became an entrepreneur. Though it was hard during those economic times, I was still able to find success which is a very rewarding feeling that Iʼve been able to experience over the last two and a half years. In my business we offered catering service, disc jockey service, rentals, and event coordinating.

As if my plate wasn’t already full, I couldn’t resist taking a job offer as head coach with Burlington Christian Academyʼs women’s varsity soccer team. I could easily write a few pages on this team but maybe another day….

I had the small period of two months before finding what I would call a perfect fit for me at Willow Oaks. Now specializing in sales and public relations I’m eager to introduce you to what we have to offer. Please find me at or feel free to call (336) 937 – 4568 for any questions. I look forward to meeting you!

Our Mast Tree Maintenance Project–Planting the seeds for a plentiful future!

February 21, 2012

This past January, we’ve been hard at work!

We’ve been diligently working on our “Mast Tree Maintenance Project” as a means to beautify and enrich both the land and wildlife here at the plantation.

Shortly after purchasing the property in 2001, we implemented a habitat improvement program, one part of which includes our mast tree maintenance project.  After several other projects that have come ahead of it, we’ve finally got underway, and we’re definitely looking forward to giving back to Nature.

For the non-arborists among us, “mast” is a term used to refer to the fruit produced by forest trees found naturally in the wild.  Our project’s purpose is to plant and maintain well over 1,000 mast producing trees to provide additional sources of food for the wildlife that roam our land.  Varieties being planted include Oak, Dogwood, Persimmon, and Apple trees.

Mast is a preferred source of food for wildlife: fruit, seeds and even branch tips from these trees are often eaten by deer. To protect the trees from deer browse in the early stages of their development, wire cages have been installed around the young trees. With this protection during their initial growth, we are ensuring that the plantation will be well-populated with a variety of attractive species in the years to come.

Once a tree has grown large enough to withstand deer pressure, the cage is removed and limbs are delicately pruned to help the trees reach their full growth potential.  Our estimated yield for this project will provide volumes of additional food sources for our local wildlife.

Although it’s referred to as a “Maintenance Project”, this careful planning and cultivation is really about new growth. At the plantation, we do our best not only to care for the land around us through every season, but to literally “plant the seeds” for even greater enjoyment in the years to come.

Loving homes needed for seven adorable puppies!

November 7, 2011

We’re looking for loving homes for seven adorable puppies.  These pups are a one-of-a-kind mix and guaranteed to be the best pet you’ve ever owned!

The father is an American Kennel Club Black Lab that is a two- time certified Master Hunter and the mother, from Texas, comes from a line of world class deer tracking dogs.  She is a cross between a Catahoula Leopard and Texas Blue Lacy.  Both are very sweet dogs and extremely dedicated to their owners.

The puppies can be trained as working dogs in both disciplines of retrieving and tracking
wounded big game or just be great pets!  They love kids and can be trained as great watch dogs to protect property boundary. Visit our Facebook page for more pictures of these sweet puppies!

We are looking for great homes for all seven of these special puppies.  They will be free to a good home: we reserve the right to verify that they are being placed in a kind and safe environment.

If you are interested, please send an email to: 


The celebration of the John Motley Morehead High School, Class of 1961’s 50th Anniversary

September 29, 2011

Photography by Tom Barbour

    When Carol Gwynn was searching for the perfect location for the Morehead High School 50th Class Reunion, a name popped in her mind: Willow Oaks Plantation.  She had heard of the location from a friend whose son had attended a Willow Oaks hunting event and had raved about the beautiful landscape, accommodating staff, and remarkable time all of the guests had enjoyed.  Carol was intrigued and she convinced the class committee to go take a look.

    Upon arriving at Willow Oaks Plantation, Carol realized she was quite familiar with the land.   “It was the ol’ Dick Smith Dairy Farm” she explained.  Carol and her classmates had grown up in the area, which at the time was three separate towns: Leaksville, Spray, and Draper.  The consolidation took place in 1967 and the town was named Eden.  As a classmate would later remark during the reunion, “Everybody’s parked down that way at least once during high school!”  Turning into the driveway, Carol noticed the beauty of the wooden fencing and the grand new entrance and gasped, “WOW!” As they drove past the fields, over the bridge with views of the Dan River, and towards the white plantation house, she recalls that they were “blown away”.  After a tour of the house, the grounds, and the lodge, Carol noted that, “Every lighting fixture was like a work of art.  Even the additions fit so perfectly.  The owner has done a first-class job on every detail.”  Carol loved the idea of hosting this very special reunion at Willow Oaks, a “familiar place from childhood, but also something new.  Once we visited, that was it—it was the perfect place.”

    If there’s one thing the class of 1961 takes to heart, it’s the Morehead High School motto: Where there’s a will, there’s a way.  That is precisely the reason that still 50 years later, these folk gather together to catch up with old friends, swap stories, and relive cherished memories.  On the evening of the big event, the Willow Oaks Lodge was alive with excitement.  The house was filled with the aroma of delectable foods– house-smoked turkey, prime rib, red bliss potatoes, green beans, veggies & dips, and bread with brie, fruit, and crackers– on a brightly-colored display by Danny Martin, the Willow Oaks in-house caterer.  The rooms swayed with the sounds of Buddy Holly, the Everly Brothers, Fats Domino, Elvis, Ray Charles, Richie Valens, Brenda Lee, and other late ‘50s shag music and pop artists who provided tunes for Friday night school “sock hops”, dances so named because students were not allowed to wear shoes on the gym floor.  Even the sunset over the grounds made for a beautiful setting to relax on rocking chairs on the patio of the lodge.  The classmates proved their school spirit by decorating the lodge with the school’s colors, black and white, and enormous amounts of memorabilia from senior trips and proms, football jerseys, diplomas, report cards, school year books, and a cake decorated with the school mascot, a Morehead High Panther.  Activities of the evening included the naming of the senior superlatives, chanting the school’s fight song, and even a hula hoop contest!  As a memorial to deceased classmates, there was a candle-lighting ceremony and the reading of a poem by a fellow classmate as a tribute to all the members of the high school class.  A tremendous amount of work went into collecting contact information and compiling a booklet for each class member with phone numbers and addresses so that each class member could remain in touch after the reunion.  In attendance were 104 guests, of which 68 were from the Morehead class of 1961.

    Reflecting on the fun event, Carol remarked that “Danny and his staff did an amazing job.”  She and other members of the class committee have received comments from classmates saying it had been “wonderful”, “superb”, and was the “perfect reunion.”  Everyone had a “tremendous time there!” 

    To the members of the class of John Motley Morehead High School’s class of 1961, we’d like to extend our most sincere thanks for the honor of choosing Willow Oaks Plantation to be the setting for this very special celebration rich with history, memories, laughter, and friendship. 


Willow Oaks Plantation prepares for an exciting event to come!

August 15, 2011
McCardell Photography

At Willow Oaks Plantation, we have a saying: Our history, your story.  And while we’re sure plenty of stories will be revisited at our upcoming event, our guests are bringing with them quite a timeline of their own history.  On Saturday, August 20th, the John Motley Morehead High School graduates of the class of 1961 will celebrate their 50th high school reunion here at Willow Oaks. 

In a time before Facebook, cassette tapes, and skating rinks, teenagers enjoyed attending school dances, catching a drive-in movie with friends, and bee-bopped along to the fresh sounds of The Shirelles, Roy Orbison, and Patsy Cline.  A sense of school spirit rang true and everyone knew the art of storytelling and togetherness.

The event to come is expected to be quite a treat, complete with music of the era and a current class photo to be taken in front of the Willow Oaks house.  (We will post the picture on our next blog!)

We’re looking forward to welcoming this wonderful group of guests to Willow Oaks, and enjoying the rich sense of community, friendship, and shared history they will bring.  We’re honored to be the setting of this very happy occasion!

As we prepare for the festivities this week, we’ll surely be singing the familiar tune from The Beach Boys, “Be true to your school!”


Elizabeth Martin Shares Her Thoughts On Willow Oaks Plantation

July 21, 2011

When did you first find out about the Willow Oaks Plantation and when did you first visit?

One of my parents’ friends told us that Willow Oaks Plantation was going to open for weddings.  The past owners live on my street so I always knew about it.  I first visited when the Brides on Tour group was there.

What was your first impression?

Everything was so nice and had that extra special southern touch that my fiance and I like.

Is there one specific thing that inspired you to make the decision that this was the perfect place for your wedding?

Hank and I love a place that has a story.  It had the perfect southern charm and the elegance that we were looking for.  When we first drove up we thought to ourselves, “we would love to live here!”  Since we can’t, we thought “Let’s have a party instead!”

What is your “dream” wedding and how do you plan to play that out at WOP?

I want a wonderful summer evening with good food, dancing and great fun.  WOP is the place that fits us and our friends and families.  We are private people and want to share our day with our closest family and friends.  WOP will give us their full attention on that day.  I like that you only have one event at a time.  It makes the couple feel like you are there to make their day special!

Is there any advice you would give a future bride about planning her wedding and specifically finding a venue for her wedding?

You have to be comfortable with the venue that you choose.  If not, you will not be able to enjoy yourself.  Have FUN!

Elizabeth Martin and Hank Gates wedding date is Saturday, July 30th, 2011.  Photo courtesy of McDorman Photography.