Chuck Manatt found a creative way to save his grandfather's turn-of-the-century barn near Audubon. Having served three generations, the barn stood as an empty reminder of the place where cows were once milked and hay was hoisted into its loft. Outliving its usefulness was the barn's only crime; it was still a strong building able to stand for a long time to come.

Growing up north of Audubon, Chuck left the family farm to seek his fortune in the city. Yet, from wherever he lived, he, his wife Kathy Klinkefus (also from Audubon) and their children returned to visit the homeplace and community. Oftentimes bringing their friends back with them to enjoy beautiful western Iowa and to hunt; they had many times thought of building a lodge on the century farm.

Out of this interest as well as the interest to save Grandpa's barn, the Manatts, their farming partners Ted and Donna Bauer, and family friend and contractor, Tom Testroet, began turning the old red English barn into a modern lodge. Within a year, the barn was transformed into Taylor Hill Lodge - appropriately name after Chuck's Grandpa Taylor and the first big hill north of Audubon where the lodge sits.

Completed in the spring of 2002, Taylor Hill Lodge stands looking much the same on the outside but the inside would be quite a surprise to Charlie Taylor. Where once pigs rooted in the straw, the guests now relax on leather sofas in front of a cozy fireplace. Homey and comfortable is how guests describe the lodge with its earthy colors, mission-style furniture and original pitched ceiling visible from the spacious great room below.

Open year round, Taylor Hill Lodge offers six bedrooms, four full baths and a family-sized dining and sitting area. Outside to the east is a patio where guests can sip their morning coffee while viewing the sunrise and surrounding fields.

Although solo travelers are always welcome, the lodge is superb for reunions of families or friends.

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