Hi friends! Welcome to the first post of our series: Creating White Cottage Farm. In this series, we hope to take you way back from the time we found White Cottage Farm to even farther back to when the farm originated in the 1800s. We realize that we were not the best at documenting the farm and its transitions throughout the years & we also realize that we have a lot of new people here daily so we wanted to create this series to talk all about how this farm came to be, what our dreams for the farm are, share how far we have come, & so much more. In this first post, we wanted to start light & simply chat about how we found the farm and how we came to live here. For this post, we are using the listing photos from Zillow.com. This is what the house looked like when we moved into our house back in June of 2016. Not one of the rooms is finished now, but we are so excited to share the series on how it looked and where it is at now. We plan to dive way deeper further into the series, but let’s just answer a few questions to get us started & we truly hope you love this new series!
How do you find and pick the farm?
This is actually kind of a funny story, we laugh about it when people ask us this. Jose found this house about a year or so before we bought the house. I remember him bringing me the listing on Zillow, and said how we need to go look at this house. I swiped through the photos, and really didn’t call out to me, I probably gave him an unenthusiastic, oh yeah cool house. That was about it. We never went a looked at the farm, and in my mind, we moved on from it. The listing actually went “off the market” and Jose said he just assumed that the house sold. During our passive search for a farm, we looked at two different houses. One was a cool historic brick home, with a pretty cool barn. It was on a few acres, but really didn’t boost a view, and the way the property was set up, we would have had to do some work to get animals on the farm. We know it wasn’t for us. The second house we looked at was really amazing. The house was this modest little farmhouse, but the barn was something out of a movie or magazine. It was/is one of the most sought after wedding barns in West Michigan, and it was perfect. We put an offer in on this home in early 2016, and it turned into a bidding war with two other families. At the end of it all, the owner said it came down to us and one other family. In short, they didn’t pick us, we were devastated. We really like the house and loved the barn, and it came with an established wedding venue something we have always wanted to do. I remember just being so hurt because my heart was so set on this home. God was definitely looking out for us because once the new homeowner moved in, the township and local residents were giving them a hard time with hosting weddings at the barn. The income from the wedding barn, was worked into our budget to afford the house, being unable to host any events there, would have financially put us in a major bind.
Shortly after our heartbreak, the future White Cottage Farm popped back up on Zillow. Jose brought it back to me, and still feeling the sting of missing out on the last one, I didn’t pay any attention to it, again. I have to preface something, because it is sincerely, a pretty significant moment to our journey here. Jose and I are a pretty strong team when it comes to decisions, thoughts, and choices. If one of us isn’t on board with something, we usually move on or try to convince the other to get on-board. If our “pitch” to one another doesn’t change our minds, we move on. Until this moment, we really didn’t realize we did that throughout our marriage. So after Jose showed me this house for the second time, and I barely lifted an eyebrow at it, he said, okay– I am going to look at it next Saturday, regardless, if I think it’s cool I’ll call you. He was that pulled to go to this house… completely out of character for him and for us as a couple. I remember him calling me while I was working at my store, and I could just hear it in his voice. “This is it… this is the one! You need to see this place.” The following weekend, he brought me out to the farm… and I have to say when I pulled up I could definitely start to feel something about this place… and when I walked in the house it was instant. I felt all the feels, and I could not-not see us here. My feeling was completely abrupt and independent from Jose, Jose didn’t influence me, other than bringing me here, I don’t think I made it past the kitchen before turning to him and saying something. As we walked around the feeling grew and before the end of the day, we put together an offer for what is now White Cottage Farm.
PS. I always tell the story now about losing that first house because it truly was the best gift that we missed out on it. I never knew what a blessing an unanswered prayer could be until losing out on that house. I’m so thankful & I know Jose is too!
Why were you looking for a new home when you found White Cottage Farm?
Great question. We loved our last home. It was Jose’s dad’s home before he passed away from cancer & we honestly could have lived there for a longer time. We had something pretty traumatic happen to us while living there that involved a neighbor peeking in windows and being caught by the police. It was hard to live there after that & so we just started casually looking. That is when the farm came up and the rest was history.
What do you know about the house?
This was a centennial farm, which means it was owned by the same family for at least 100 years. We were actually the first family to break the centennial farm from the original family of the property. This house was built by Bishop Barnaby in 1847. We still are learning more about the Bishop, but he pastored at a church right up the road which is still there today. And fun fact, an aunt and uncle of mine attend that church and have for many years before us moving here.
We have pictures of a few different barns here on the property, the house before the porch and additions. The most recent addition before we moved in was done in the 1980’s.
What stories can you share about the history?
One of the most astonishing facts is that Bishop Barnaby was friends with another bishop by the name Bishop Wright. Bishop Wright is the father to Orville and Wilbur Wright… yes the Wright Brothers dad. Talk about full circle, we moved back from North Carolina, and in our last year, we visited the Kitty Hawk where the Wright Brother museum is, and fell in love with the story.
We have confirmed documentation the Bishop Barnaby hosted Bishop Wright in our house, a few times while Bishop Wright visited and spoke at the Church on the corner. There is a pretty confident story that both Orville and Wilbur stayed here as well when they were young boys, but we are still looking to confirm that.
How many families have lived here?
There have been many families that have lived in this house, we don’t have an exact count (as of yet), but we are the first non-family member to own this house since it was built. We hope to reveal more of this when we blog the history of the home soon.
How many renovation stages did it go through?
The house has gone through a bunch of renovations. We only know some of the details about two renovations. One was done in the 1960s and the other we know of was done in the 1980s. As you can see above, this is the original homeowner, Bishop Barnaby, shows the original body of the house. Essentially what has happened over the years, is the house was added on to, outwardly, most of the original house is actually in the center of our home now. In the 1980’s the added to the side of the house with the chimney. Meaning they took down the original chimney, added about 10 feet (towards Diane’s house), and installed a new chimney. In the 1980’s they had a few phases, creating an atrium to the back of the house, and shortly after installing a traditional roof that is now our sunroom. The old garage was enclosed, which is now the room we are working on now, on the poolside of the house. We fully plan on going more in detail on each room and the changes we know about as the series continues on.
Did you see potential right away in the house?
Yes! I feel like this is something that I am able to see everywhere I go. I can see what I would do with the space and how I would work it to make it my home. It’s a hobby and a passion of mine for sure! I was also able to see the potential because this house was so well maintained & taken care of. Having good bones was a huge factor in our decision to purchase this home.
Is it correct that the barn was built first?
Initially, we thought so, based on the date of the barn and when the house was built. However, we are hearing conflicting stories on this. So as we get more details on this we will let you know. As of right now, the house was built first, and the barn came right after.
What were the original animals here?
The little building on the front of the barn is a milk shed, so this was a pretty active cattle barn for some time. We have seen photos of cattle and horses here on the farm. The basement of the barn currently has low pig troughs in it, so clearly there were pigs here too. From our understanding, the barn held some neighbor’s horses, on and off, but was left vacant for some time prior to us moving here. We are told there was quite a large sheep barn next to the silo, which makes sense because there is a lot of crushed concreted pieces scattered around the ground on that side of the barn.
How long did you live in the house?
We bought the house in June of 2016.
Why did the family decide to leave?
The previous homeowner passed away about 6 months prior to us buying the home. This home was so important to her and it shows in how well she kept the house, the landscape. The bones of the home were really looked after, and no expense was spared when she updated the utility appliances, which we are extremely grateful for. After she passed, the home went into a trust for her two daughters. They decided not to buy it from one another, so they put it up for sale. One of the daughters lives near us, and one daughter lives out of state. We haven’t talked to them since purchasing the home, but we hope they like how we are enjoying our home and creating memories with our family.
Have you always wanted to live on a farm?
The short answer: Yes. The longer answer: Yes, it was always the long term goal. The dream as they call it. We never imagined that in our 20’s we would reach that goal, but it was the right house, at the right time, at the right price… so here we are! Forever grateful Jose found this farm for our little family.
Are you happy with the farm you purchased?
Yes. A million times yes. We are so thankful for this home, this farm, & this place of work for us. We are grateful every day & we are having so much fun creating our “White Cottage farm”
Thank you guys for stopping by for our first post of this series, Creating White Cottage Farm. We are so excited to continue this series from here on out & take you deeper behind the scenes. We will be sharing videos, projects, process photos, the good & the bad, & so much more. Thanks again for stopping by to hang out with us today & we hope to see you back here soon! XX