In 1794, two houses were built in Hope, one raised in the morning, the other in the afternoon. One of the homesteads is now the Pearse Farm, which has been in the family more than 200 years. William Pearse, now 90, resides at Windward Gardens in Camden, but he was born in that house, and is one of the eight generations of Pearse men who kept the farm humming.
In 1980, three generations of the Pearse family ---William and his wife, Francina; his mother, Ethel (then 90); and his sons, Chris, 15, and Bill, 16, --- ran the 240-acre dairy farm. At that time the herd numbered 60, bred continuously from the original 1790s herd. Today, Chris owns and runs the farm, while Bill helps with the haying and cuts wood for the farm. Chris and Linda were married on the farm's lawn in June 1996.
Fast forward to winter 2009-2010, and the herd numbers 80-plus. The farm outbuildings were replaced or upgraded extensively in 2005, and it was time for Chris and Linda to restore the original house and its later additions into a comfortable and energy efficient home with modern amenities. A game plan envisaged by the whole family several years ago was set in motion.
Last fall, Chris and Linda gathered the restoration team: Jean Sharratt of Appleton-based Bulldog Interiors, master builder George Winslow and his Lincolnville team, and Doreen Convoy, a muralist based in Alna.
Incorporating LEED certified and green products, and armed with tools and stencils, the artisans and carpenters went to work, completing the project in August. The first floor bedroom has become a master bathroom with French doors opening out onto a porch with a view of the cow pasture. A summer kitchen is now the lavender bedroom complete with a bay window and vanity area. The second floor attic was cleared of stuff accumulated over the centuries and restored to original bedrooms, with the addition of a guest bathroom complete with a claw foot tub.
The original entry now has a split-level staircase, leading left and right to the bedrooms, and the central wall features a storyboard of the farm through the ages, vignettes depicting developments of the farm from early 1800 to the present, and gleaned from the family archive of black and white photographs.
The kitchen has been transformed, along with adjacent smaller rooms, into an atrium ceiling custom kitchen/ great room, complete with a bay window and exposed Douglas fir beams. Innovative cabinetry provides storage while appliances, quartz countertops, tiled floor and a soapstone wood stove fill the kitchen.
William Pearse appreciates the restoration, and takes the long view of life. What does he think of all the farmhouse changes?
"Sun gets up the same and sets the same as every other day," he said.