“I don’t want sunbursts and marble halls…I just want you.” – Anne of Green Gables
Theirs is a love story. A labor of love. For many of us, catching a dream and having the inspiration to guide your heart is as far as we get. Many dreams remain alive only at night when we ponder the mystical question of, “What if…”….we never make it to the actualization of the dream becoming possible.
It takes certain strength and courage to invest your time, vacations, every spare dime, all your friend favors and more to hope against all hope that you really could make your dream a reality.
But Clare and Tom did just that.
With Clare growing up on a hobby farm and having already started an Antique and Vintage rental company, The Red Bench, Tom knew his wife enjoyed a rustic and historic lifestyle. I am sure it still came as a shock to him when two years ago, she came to him in the dead of winter and said she inquired about a farm – more than 40 miles from where they currently lived and worked in Plymouth MN. She had secretly been keeping her eye on the property over the last eight years after attending a barn sale where she was drawn to its location and buildings.
Falling in love with the abandoned farm in Afton MN, Clare and Tom expected their biggest challenge would be restoring a turn of the century historic barn. Something they really didn’t know anything about.
The property boasts beautiful original out buildings, a stylish home, and historic barn. They spent their first summer with the property clearing brush and trees revealing all the potential that their land holds. They moved onto simple repairs in the home to make it livable and found a contractor through the community “Friends of MN Barns” to help with the historic barn restoration. Who knew such a fun and unique group existed!
It is energizing to listen to this dedicated couple talk about preserving everything historic and unique on their property. Their passion for creating a beautiful, peaceful and enchanting piece of history is what drove their commitment to making it happen so quickly. In two short years, the whole farm received a makeover and the stunning turn of the century barn was brought back to life. In their deep committed effort to make sure the barn was restored to its original glory, what they couldn’t salvage, they made sure to rescue from other barns.
The barn is what draws you into this property, but the feeling of coming home is what makes you stay.
They took the same dedication they had at restoring the property to working towards creating an enchanting space where people can start their lives together under the beauty of a piece of history. They dream of having a fresh cut flower farm. Hosting pop up sales highlighting the goods curated by The Red Bench. There was even talk about tea parties and dinners, reunions and weddings. They desire to share the gift of their farm with others, and it is inspiring to hear them talk about fighting for their dream.
While Avonlea Farm is working towards being a farm that hosts intimate weddings, events and private parties, they have run to difficulty with the city over conducting business on private property.
They are still working hard with City Council for final business approval to really make their dream a reality. In the mean time they are participating in the Woodbury Lions Club Garage Sale this weekend where you can shop Clare’s fabulous antiques and vintage decor at garage sale prices. They use their space for photo shoots while they continue to work towards preparing the property in the hopes that soon they can start hosting weddings and events.
Speaking as someone who loves to dream up ideas and spends more time dreaming than following through, this couple’s work ethic was such an inspiration to me. Clare and Tom, we stand behind you as you fight for the right to host weddings and parties and create a lovely space for people to gather and find hope and peace together. The world needs more people like you creating the spaces you do. Space to rest and soak in magic. We can’t wait to come see all your treasures this weekend for the sale. Thank you for opening your home and hearts to us and sharing your story of perseverance and patience. We loved seeing how this adventure has brought you two closer together. Gatherhaus stands behind your dream and we will do whatever we can to help you make it real!
Gatherhaus is the enchanting reality of bringing these rare and beautiful pieces together.
People, places, art, and food that inspire us and make us chase after dreams
of deep, rich community and fulfillment.