In Marshfield, P.E.I., there is a Manse that has stood since the 1830’s, that once used to serve as the home for the local Presbyterian church minister. While the church next door is still in use, the Manse has been left uninhabited for years.
It’s new owners are Tim Archer and Ricky Lee, who purchased the building in 2016 just a week before it was slated for demolition, because they felt that too many old buildings were being left to fall into disrepair.
Neither are originally from P.E.I., Tim is from Ontario, and Ricky is from Texas. “There’s a lot of history that we’re losing daily, and this was our mission, to set out to save another piece, even if it was ‘insignificant little Marshfield manse,'” Archer said. “It’s been a great challenge.”
They’ve spent years doing their best to restore it. Made in what Tim calls post and peg construction; with wooden pegs driven into logs to secure the pieces. It’s the kind of building that sways in the wind.
The two did their best to faithfully restore the old building with modern supplies, and that occasionally meant creating their own décor with hand-painted wallpaper, and custom curtains. They didn’t replace the original lathe and plaster with drywall — instead, they covered it with fabric. That’s what they had found glued to the walls when they were peeling off coverings during the restoration.
They didn’t replace everything though; it was important to leave some imperfections that told a story. One former lady of the house loved to dance, Archer said, and a gramophone sat in a corner. She wore heel-marks in the floor near the machine as she danced, and the two had no desire to remove them.
There’s no point in restoring a historical building if you remove the history from it in the process.
The two at first simply lived in the building, but both love to perform and entertain (Lee is a southern gospel singer, and Archer also sings), so they decided to make the downstairs rooms into a live music venue with a stage. That’s Music at the Manse, and a new series called Movies at the Manse has them showing movies on a large projection screen once a week too.
Their efforts have not been ignored either; you would be hard pressed to ignore the orange exterior! A colour they chose because it supposedly inspires happiness. They also added plywood cutouts of musical notes from a favourite hymn, In the Garden (He Walks With Me).
More than that, they have been invited to Lt.-Gov. Antoinette Perry’s residence in Charlottetown to receive an award from the P.E.I. Museum and Heritage Foundation for their work in restoring the building.
“Unbelievable! Both of us, we were very surprised,” Archer said of opening the mail to read the letter announcing news of their award. “It’s just a real honour. I can’t thank Prince Edward Island and the people enough for helping us realize a dream and saving an old building at the same time.”
They still don’t know who nominated them, but they’re thrilled to be recognized for the years of hard work they have done with their own hands. “It’s been definitely a labour of love for both Ricky and I,” Archer said.
It’s their love of history and their efforts to return a building to the community that are your Good News Story of the Day, find it in full here.
“I don’t think we’ll ever be done,” Lee said. A prayer garden and more outdoor seating are next in the plans. As for the award? They plan to hang it proudly in the manse’s front hall.
History is important, and remembering where we came from can help guide us into the future; even if it might need some freshening up.
Story and Image from CBC News.