Back to Life
A historic farmhouse in Rockland is reborn as an everyday country retreat.
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Even before they had been properly introduced, Stephanie Krewson thought of the farmhouse as an old friend. She had been intrigued by the property, tucked among trees on rural Rockland Road, since she was a young girl. After she grew up, she ran by the site regularly as she trained for marathons.
“I have loved this house my entire life,” she says.
The romance was further fueled by Krewson’s passion for preservation. She has always had a soft spot in her heart for old houses.
“Restoration is not necessarily practical,” she says. “There is a strong emotional element to it.”
The farmhouse was owned by W. Laird Stabler Sr., father of politician and public servant W. Laird Stabler Jr. The house was donated to the Delaware State Historic Preservation Office, which encourages the preservation and rehabilitation of historic sites. The agency was tasked with selling the property to a buyer who would restore the house and, preferably, give a conservation easement to the state so no McMansions could be built on the site in the future.
Krewson bought the property in 2002, then donated the easement to the state, ensuring that the land would forever remain an unspoiled tract. Her initial plan was to revitalize the house for use as a weekend getaway from her fast-paced job as a stock analyst. She named her peaceful plot Tranquility.
“I think it’s impossible to not feel tranquil when experiencing so much natural beauty,” she says.
Though the rolling, wooded terrain surrounding the property was lovely, the house required reconstructive surgery. No one had lived in it for years, so its lonely walls ached for someone who could look beyond tattered wallpaper and rotting floorboards to embrace the home’s innate charm.
Krewson possesses the rare ability to see clear through to a structure’s bones, a sort of X-ray vision that puts exciting possibilities into crystalline focus. “It was a mess,” she says, “but it had potential.”
To transform her ideal of a retreat that is compatible with both its natural surroundings and her innate aesthetic sensibilities, she turned to Mike Christopher of Bancroft Homes in Wilmington.
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