this is Our Home
by Donna Rhodes
Buying a century-old mountain farmhouse was a magical history tour for the Seichrist family.
Pippa Seichrist, whom you may remember as a recent Laurel feature artist, says, “Thirty years ago my husband and I lived in Atlanta and longed for a retreat from the crazy crowds. We drew a wagon wheel around the Metro Hub to encompass anything within a two-hour driving radius.”
In that circle were two Highlands homesteads, both represented by an older gentleman. The first was his childhood home and the second, his wife’s. His home, a turn-of-the-20th-century farmhouse with smokehouse, tiered root cellar, barn, and corncrib was love at first sight-smell-touch-and-sound.
Pippa adds, “It was a coup to buy from the original owner.”
They signed the papers on their thrilling new residence, which was situated on 45 acres of enchantment, backing up to the National Forest.
The Seichrists, accomplished artisans, took joy in their everlasting mountain of possibilities. If a thing’s not walking, it’s likely to become part of a stunning hand-crafted table, a fairy castle with moss carpets, a decked-out tree-house, towering totems, a snake-stick chair or gate, doggy-face mugs, or a glorious garden wall.
Even though the structures were in disrepair, their compelling charm inspired a remarkable adventure over the next few years. Maintaining the essence and footprint of the farmhouse was foremost, for its history was as important as its future function.
That meant accommodating a walnut tree, poetically the spine of the house, which grew right through the building. In the fall, the Seichrists felt like they were under siege, walnut-cannonballs relentlessly pounding their tin roof.
Over time the family restored all buildings except the barn, which was dismantled and the wood re-purposed.
While ripping out ceilings and walls, many discoveries were made, among them archival papers, tea cups, toys, bucketfuls of wood stove soot, and more. It all pieced together a documentary of the rugged life of early settlers.
Over the course of years, new features and critters were added to those pre-existing, among them: his-and-her wood-working studios and the resulting hand-crafted furnishings; Pippa’s hand-sculpted ceramic dinnerware, a property annex for a Miami Ad School branch; the cultivation of fabulous food and flower gardens; four-legged rescues added to a growing menagerie of donkeys, horses, ducks, and more. In the midst of all the renovation and other work the family found time to offer table-making and craft workshops onsite.
But their largest and dearest undertaking was adopting a young girl, Olya, and her brother, Andry, from the Ukraine. That story deserves volumes of telling, but let’s just say they saved a young girl from a deathly situation. Miraculously, after a 5-year effort, they rescued her brother as well.
Usually when we write about a unique home, we speak of its characteristics, its frame, its setting, its interior design. But the Seichrist house is so much more than that. The love, creativity, energy, joy, spirit, and beauty are intangibles, yet they are as integral to the home as brick, mortar, wood, and nail. These people-of-possibility have the tools and talent to take on whatever challenge Life throws their way. And you can bet the outcome will be five-star-fabulous.
Inquire about woodworking classes at (786) 200-8742; dogface mugs at email@example.com; or classes at Miami Ad School at (800) 858-3190.