Dating back to 1790, Bay School farm overlooks Lake Winnisquam and miles and miles of mountains to the east and north.
Everyone has his or her own idea of what heaven looks like. For us, however, a certain 13-plus acres, surrounded by neighboring farms, on a ridge overlooking eight-mile-long Lake Winnisquam as well as the Belknap and White Mountains, comes pretty darn close.
Just picture flower and vegetable gardens, fruit trees, stone walls, stately old maples, your own apple orchard, and a pond with ducks and herons. Then add a charming four-bedroom home that was built when George Washington was president, a restored old schoolhouse serving as a guesthouse or a rental, and a new four-stall barn, currently home to Merry and Katy, two of the cutest miniature horses you’ve ever met. Surely all of that comprises a bit of heaven up there on that hill in Sanbornton, New Hampshire.
Luigi and Mario were very excited by our recent visit to what’s been known in the area for years as “Bay School Farm.” They chased each other back and forth at about a hundred miles an hour as we sat with owners Marjory Hillman and Lou Marcello in the spacious living/dining area, in front of a massive brick fireplace with beehive oven, one of four in the house. (For the 16 years following Lou’s becoming a widower, Lou and Marjory have been husband and wife.)
Of course, Luigi and Mario aren’t the only cats who live here with Marjory and Lou. There’s also Licorice, Nicoal, and Rocky, plus a beautiful white German shepherd by the name of Shotzi, and those miniature horses we’ve mentioned. We were to meet them all in due course.
“Animals are our life” Marjory smiled, as Luigi and Mario raced by again and then scooted out into a heated, four-season sunroom. Its large windows overlook a brick-and-stone patio, which Lou built, and from which one can drink in all those miles of New Hampshire countryside. “And as farmers,” Marjory continued, “we actually work the land here and have become quite self-sustaining.”
She went on to explain that, for instance, Lou makes delicious wines, while she cans and preserves many of the fruits and vegetables they grow on the property, sharing much of the bounty with friends and also the families of Lou’s six children still living in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts, where he grew up and began his career as a home builder. (Marjory, who, incidentally, has climbed every one of New Hampshire’s 4,000-foot mountains, was born on a farm in Bangor, Maine.)
A bit later, after Luigi and Mario returned to settle next to each other in one of the stuffed chairs, we meandered through the 11 rooms with Lou, while Marjory headed down to the full cellar (there’s also a full attic) for some preserved peaches and pickles to give us—plus a bottle of Lou’s wine.
“We sanded down all these floors after removing the old paint,” said Lou as we walked through the well-equipped kitchen, with its gorgeous original brick fireplace (like the one in the living room), past the downstairs bathroom, and on into the “mudroom,” which Lou created from what was once a shed-like space. We noted an attached two-car garage beyond.
It seemed that everywhere we went, Lou pointed out, in his quiet, soft-spoken way, improvements that he and Marjory have made over the course of the seven years they’ve lived here.
“The original old stairs here were so steep that I rebuilt them,” Lou said as we headed up to the second floor, after passing through the den, with another of those fabulous fireplaces. “I taped all the windows and weatherproofed everything, including new siding,” he continued, while we admired the master bedroom, with fireplace—bathed in sunshine from windows on two sides—and the elegant master bathroom Lou built, using some of the space in one of the other three bedrooms up there. “We redid these floors, too,” he went on, “and raised the ceilings to expose those old hand-hewn beams.”
We realized at this point that Lou Marcello, with his expert skills developed during a lifetime of building homes for other people, was truly the best thing to happen to the old Bay School Farm in the past 221 years of its existence.
A bit later, accompanied by Lou, Marjory, and Shotzi, who was almost as excited by visitors as Luigi and Mario had been, we walked over to the old schoolhouse,Aeiactually used as a school as late as the 1950s. On the way, we passed a nice potting shed and a pergola, created by Lou, of course. The school still has its old blackboard and the old school-like lights in the ceiling. But, thanks to Lou, it now also has a bedroom, a lovely bathroom, a kitchenette, and, well, it’s totally charming. We could happily live there.
Lou and Marjory are currently renting it to a young man, an actor in the local theater, who would probably love to stay on after new owners take over Bay School Farm. Which brings us to the sort of sad reality that Lou, now approaching 80 years old, and Marjory have felt the need to downsize and have put their beloved hilltop property on the market. They’re asking $975,000, which, of course, means everything, including those valuable 13 acres.
Our last stop was the four-stall barn, built by Lou and his sons, out back of the house, just above the pond. It’s home to Merry and Katy, those miniature horses that are so beautiful, so little, and soooo affectionate. Since Marjory and Lou’s next home might not have room for them, the new owners of Bay School Farm might conceivably adopt Merry and Katy.
And, you know, for us, that would probably be the deal-clincher.
For details, contact Barbara Mylonas, Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, Center Harbor, NH. 800-639-4022, 603-253-4345 (office), 603-344-8197 (cell); Barbara.Mylonas@NewEnglandMoves.com