Ridge Runner

Published 3:39 pm Thursday, July 22, 2010

When Bruce Marchand built a handful of cabins just outside of Livingston, he didn’t expect them to turn into a wedding destination for couples around the southeast.

But that’s what’s happening.

In the spring of 2002 Marchand built a few cabins that quickly became a popular weekend and holiday getaway. What most people failed to realize seven years ago was that he wasn’t finished.

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Fast forward to the Spring 2010.

Now adjacent to the cabins stands a wedding chapel built atop what once was the ashes of a saw mill on the banks of the Tombigbee River. The saw mill burned in the 1940s and the operation was moved up river shortly thereafter.

It’s an extremely ornate undertaking for a man who says he got into the construction business by accident.

“I’ve always built furniture and remodeled around the house,” he said. “Then I built the cabins and had some folks asking me if I could build a house. That’s how I got into the construction businesses.”

Marchand quickly carved out a niche, building specialty homes, mostly constructed of wood and log cabins. Over a period of years, he also picked up somewhat of a trademark, again, by accident.

“I’d have guys say, ‘You can tell Bruce built this house. It’s got cedar in it,’” he laughed. “(The use of cedar) kind of became our calling card.”

Marchand said the use of cedar was appealing because it has a natural and rustic look. Stepping inside the newly constructed wedding chapel at Mimosa Ridge it’s easy to see in practice what he preaches.

Cedar planks line the walls and cedar supports line the ceiling. All trim work is also cedar. The first thing you notice when you walk up the sidewalk is a custom-made door, accented with glass and an interlocking ring pattern. The floors are marble. The bride’s dressing room is affixed with an over-sized full-length mirror and an early-1900s Bombay chest imported from Italy.

“I bought that chest for my mother probably 20 years ago,” he said. “It’s a nice piece of furniture. Excellent craftsmanship.”

Since Mimosa Ridge’s completion in September, Marchand said he and his wife, Laura, have hosted about 13 weddings. However, they already have nearly twice that number scheduled in the coming months.

The wedding chapel can accommodate more than 150 people.

Walking around the property one might get the impression that Marchand and his construction days were finally finished. Not quite. He plans to build a reception hall adjacent to the chapel eventually.

“It was always the premise to do the whole thing together,” Marchand says of what has become a construction project. “But I wouldn’t change anything. That’s just the way things happen.” •