When our grandparents bought the farm they also bought some of the handmade furniture that Adolphe Cambre built. This apple bench was one that was bought at the sale in 1979. The shelf underneath was for boxes and provided a quiet place to rest in the orchard. The piece still had the original milk paint from when it was first built in the 1860’s. Grandma placed it at the top of the stairs and it remained there the entire time they owned the house.
After my grandfather died, the family held an auction and sold the antiques that my grandparents had collected over their many years of going to auctions. I went with the intention of getting a few special pieces that held the most memories. This was one of the pieces that I bought. Way back before buying the house was even an idea. I remember sitting on the bench looking out the upstairs widow watching all the people come and go during the fall open houses. I returned the bench to its spot for our memorial day open house where my little girl sat watching all the people come and go.
Last weekend while Rebecca and I were at the Cambre House, we had a girls night and sipped some wine and made our versions of Monet paintings. We laughed and chatted about things. It was a cool and sunny evening so we were painting at the old picnic table outside. Our kids and their friends were intermittently running through the yard with the puppy. Amelia had made a place next to us insisting that she paint, too. Why not?
We discussed what things we have gotten crossed off of our lists and the things that we needed to add. The picnic table that we were at was one. Leaning to the left a bit too much we had it propped up with tree stumps. The next morning in the cool breeze we had planned on building a new one or two, whichever we could fit in before the sun started heating up the day.
As it the evening went on we compared our paintings. Discussed different techniques. “How should I mix this color so that it looks black, but not so dark?” “What do you think about how this looks?” “I know that Monet had painted it this way, but I want to add in this.” “I like those flowers!” We discussed Monet’s style and what made it unique and also what portions of that we wanted to copy into our own paintings.
Later as it started getting dark we moved our paintings inside. As the kids started settling down for the night they came into admire our work. Noting how neat they looked and our unique styles. What a fun way to spend a night!
We want to invite more people to our painting parties! June 28th and 29th we will open up the farm for you to join us for an evening or afternoon of painting. Depending on the weather we will host either outdoors or inside. I will be available to help walk you through the steps in painting, whatever skill level you are at. We will offer light snacks and water, bring your own beverages.
The cost for the evening/day is $25 and will include the canvas, paints, inspiration and all tools and instructions needed to recreate a work of art. Sign up and pay for the day class here. Or the evening class here.
In October 2016, we were able to purchase the property. Since then we have worked on doing needed repairs and some updates and also planning. So that’s the short version of the story. When will we be done with this project? Probably never. There is always more to do and more that we want to add. Current projects include the yearly upkeep, clearing paths in the woods, residing the house and barn, adding more outdoor gathering areas, eventually we would like to add back in some fruit trees and berries.
This summer we are offering some events, like paint nights & days, gardening days, tours and would like to work on having more open houses and craft shows. In October we will have ghost tours. Watch the facebook page, as we are adding events as we can. Also, we are offering the property to be rented for a day or evening for weddings or other events.
Our grandparents had bought the house at an auction in 1979, from the Cambre descendants. Adolphe Cambre had built the house 150 years ago and his children and grandchildren had built an orchard and berry farm on the property. Our grandmother’s family had frequented the orchard when she was a child. She had written about it being an enchanted farm. It was a special place where fairytales could have happened. The property was in the countryside down gravel roads and a long lane. She had said that it would appear when the signs went up in the fall and disappear when they were taken down. At the time of the auction the orchard unfortunately was no longer there.
Our grandmother was an avid collector and restorer of antiques. When the house and farm was advertised for auction, she convinced our grandfather to purchase the property. With the support of her husband, as well as her brother and sisters, the Cambre House became her ultimate antique project. My grandparents and family worked hard on restoring the property and opened it up once a year for the public to tour. They were able to add it to the National Register of Historic Places in the 1980s and it continues to be on the list.
The plan had been to offer the property for sale. As my sister and I were spending time working on preparing the property last summer, we began asking each other if we were really going to be able to let go. We too have felt that this property was enchanted. We both had sentimental attachment to this place. My sister and her late husband had spent many hours there while he was alive. The thought of letting it go, and possibly not having it shared with the public was difficult.
Eventually we started to discuss what if we were able to buy the Cambre house and farm? What would we do with it and how would we be able to continue to share it with others? How could we afford to keep it up? We are both single women, raising our children and working full time. We came up with several ideas. Some far fetched, but some very reasonable.