Submitted by Suzanne Koller and the Bedford Chamber of Commerce
For this year’s Holiday House Tour, I decided to include my home at 245 Davis Road, which is also known as the Daniel Hartwell House, though we affectionately refer to it as Someday Farm.
Former town historian Ina Mansur dates the property to pre-1734, including it as one of three farmhouses on David Road that are considered to date to the early 18th century. That may be the case for a small section of the main house, based on everything I’ve seen while we’ve been renovating, I think the current structures were probably constructed in the early 1800s.
The main house is 2 1/2 stories, five bays across and one bay deep on the main block, with a granite foundation, wood clapboard siding, side-gabled asphalt shingle roof, and two brick chimneys behind the roof ridge. Particularly after all the work we’ve done, it is one of Bedford’s better preserved examples of a Colonial farmhouse that was expanded and updated over time.
The story of how we came to buy the property is a good one. Charlie and Katie Goldie, who had lived there for 55 years, called for a market analysis, and as I was sitting in their living room surrounded by their stuff accumulated over the years, looking at the flowered wallpaper, I realized I wanted to buy it. It had five fireplaces, 6 acres of land, and it’s located in the part of Bedford where I grew up — in short, it had what we both wanted in a house. Even so, Ryan was reluctant as the structures were in very bad shape and needed lots of work — structural issues (asbestos in the basement, oil tanks to remove, the roof needed work, we had to repair the foundation, etc.) as well as cosmetic. After much discussion, we made an offer based on the anticipated cost of rehabbing the property and it was rejected. We moved on, bought and rehabbed another house on Bacon Road while we lived in the apartment above my office on 90 Great Road (often called the Sheldon House or the Hartwell Hamblen House — maybe they’re connected?) and wouldn’t you know it — six months later Charlie called me back and said he was ready to sell.
I’ve always had a farm house on my vision board, so I was able to convince Ryan once again to take on this project. We sold the place on Bacon Road, invested the money into the Davis Road property, put our stuff into storage and moved back above my office. We closed in June 2010 and moved in a year and a half later. Ryan and I did a lot of the work ourselves — we gutted the kitchen and the front of the second floor, added a new bathroom, put in a new kitchen, restored the antique pine floors, raised the ceilings and added reclaimed beams, rebuilt the fireplaces, added structural support to the two parlors that were opened up to create one open space, painted and re-plastered every surface in the house and moved in just before Thanksgiving 2011.
Whew! We learned so much from this process that I share almost every day with my clients, with the primary lessons being that renovations often take WAY longer than you anticipate and it costs a lot more than you think it will. Two unexpected areas that we discovered were more expensive that we thought, were the costs to keep everything in storage while we rehabbed and the additional premium required to insure the house while it was empty. If this is an avenue you’re considering, be sure to factor those costs in!
Additional projects have been ongoing since we moved in, including landscaping. Last summer we took on three small front bedrooms that had been closed off and opened them up to create a master bedroom which we just completed last month. We also recently completed renovations on the mud room and screened in porch. In fact, when we gutted the mud room, we found a flyer with instructions on how to slaughter cattle!
The property includes an enclosed mid-1800s timber frame dairy barn, an open equipment shed and an icehouse near the Concord River. The barn still has the stalls for the cows and was filled with hay when we first bought it. One of our future projects is to restore the barn — I picture it as a place to hang out, spread out our hobbies, and host parties and events. In fact, we already have quads and dirt bikes which the kids enjoy running around the property. And we abut the Davis horse farm, so occasionally I look out in my back yard and see a stray horse! It’s such a great place to grow up. One day June told me “I love this house. I hope I can have it, too!”
We’ve come to call it “Someday Farm,” as in someday it’ll be done! I even had a sign made up to put on the barn, but we haven’t hung it yet.
I participated in the Holiday House Tour when we were living at 90 Great Road before June was born because so many people were curious about what we were doing and I was really excited to share our progress. Fast forward 8-10 years, and once again we’re in the thick of a major renovation of a historic Bedford property and everywhere I go people ask me about it. I love to decorate for Christmas and people really appreciated what we did at 90 Great Road, so I wanted to share this home as well — and it provides a hard deadline to get all those little projects done we’ve been meaning to get to! We’re so proud we’ve restored and preserved it as part of Bedford’s history. One of the coolest things we’ve found on the property is an old round stone in the front yard that we believe dates back to Native American times — it would be such a shame to lose the richness of this connection to history!
As far as decorating, I don’t have a particular theme and I don’t try to maintain historical accuracy — I put it ALL out! Annalee elves, Christmas villages (even in my decorating, I’m drawn to houses!), lights, greenery — you name it, and I’ll have it! This is one of the coolest events in Bedford, and I’m just so proud to be a part of it, as a sponsor and as a host!