Monday, January 19, 2009

Restoring a Buckley home at Kamschatka-Camden, SC

When my husband was hired to work at Shaw AFB. Sumter, SC I began in earnest to find an historic home in one of the near by towns to lease. Going by nothing more than maps and Google searches I came across the small town of Camden, SC. Little did I know that my Decorating and Design skills would come in handy!

We moved there blind hoping the good Lord would lead us to right home for our family and one large enough where I could continue my business of making my homemade and handmade soap, potpourri and continue to paint my Folk Art on my primitive finds.We found a huge home on property named Kamschatka (pronounced Kam-chat-ka) and it was love at first sight!

The property consisted of the main home (a Mansion, actually) and 6 other cottages and one cottage that had been used as an office, stables, in-ground pool and tennis court. Now understand that these so called "cottages" were really homes but from what I understood that those with considerable wealth in the south considered these cottages. Not sure why.

This old photo of the main house main house does not do it justice. Our house sat right behind this home.

The mansion on the property was originally built by General Chestnut in 1854.
William Buckely, Sr. purchased it years later as a summer home and had cottages built on the property for all of his children.The most famous of his children was Bill—William F. Buckley Jr. He was the founder of National Review, authored 56 books, and once ran for mayor of New York City. Bill was the 6th of 10 children born to Willam F. Buckely Sr. and his wife Alo├»se.

We leased the largest of these cottages as it was close to 4,000 sq feet! When I first walked in I almost cried as it was in deplorable condition. Plaster was coming off the walls, the wood that was abundant on the walls and doors was marred and scratched and the kitchen was in no better shape than the rest of the house. Striking a deal with the landlord, I was able to negotiate a lower rent for my promise to repair what I could. I changed out light fixtures, re-designed the layout of the kitchen, re-plastered and painted the bedrooms and replaced light fixtures.
The heavier work was done by contractors.

Each room took about 2 weeks to complete and restoring the beautiful wood to its former glory took weeks of pain-staking oiling and rubbing. When all was said and done it was beautiful-just like I knew it would be in the end.Whatever light fixtures and changes I made would remain when we left.

Old metal bathroom cupboards that were old and rusty I replaced with either a mirror or other primitive cupboards. We painted the rooms soft colors as not to distract from the dark wooden doors and wains-coating.

The kitchen was quite a sight to behold in the beginning!

It was scary!! We had the kitchen painted a soft lemon color and had the fridge change places with the stove to create better flow to the space. We took the horrible florescent light down and replaced it with a pot rack that contained its own lighting.

Next we tackled my daughters room.The plaster was completely chipping away and there were cracks to be filled. Re-plastering walls is a lost art and it is a time consuming process but I really loved seeing these rooms come to life again!

I wouldn't have decorated quite the way it ended up , but my college age daughter had ideas of her own and that was fine with me.I found 2 Vintage Chenelle bedspreads and used them for the window treatments. A small Shabby chandelier was added for lighting and was just the right size!

We left our son's room to last as he was living in Texas going to school. We tackled that job right before he returned.
This room too was missing alot of the plaster (but you can't really see that in the photos).

I love Laura Ashley's Taupe (you can find her line of paint at Lowe's). There are different shades o Taupe to choose from and I used them all throughout the house.

Seth's room also had a 1/2 bath and even though the walls were fine they needed a bit of "Ompf" and since the Landlord would not let me wallpaper I decided to do a glaze/rag technique.I also replaced the horrible medicine cabinet with a mirror.

Why in the world I didn't get photos of all the other rooms or the grand foyer is beyond me!! You always think that there is time and then it seems to just get away from you. The foyer was so large that we set our famr table in the middle and used it for our main dining room. The room that should've been the dining room we re-did as an office.The 3 fireplaces were just as beautiful and I had an old German bench sitting in front of one of them.

We have such wonderful memories of this home and miss our landlords Bill and Dee White. They almost became surrogate parents, if you will. We think of them often. Their kindness will never be forgotten.

I understand that this historic plantation is now up for sale.I know the Whites will miss it as will we. My prayer is whoever buys the property will love it as much as we did.


Christine LeFever said...

OMG! You have a treasure. I had no idea either that Wm. F. Buckley lived in SC. So beautiful!

Christine ~ Zwee!!!!!!!

Jeanneoli said...

What a treasure and I can't believe you put that much into a home you didn't own. I love old southern homes...just lovely. thanks for sharing this beautiful story.

Crystal said...

Looks great!

Edward said...

I lived in one of the guest houses when I was a child around 1965. The company my Dad worked for rented one of the houses for us until we moved to a permanent address. Good times, I remember the horses our house was close to the stables.

Edward said...

I lived in one of the guest houses when I was a child around 1965. The company my Dad worked for rented one of the houses for us until we moved to a permanent address. Good times, I remember the horses our house was close to the stables.

Isaac Lopez said...

My wife and I just moved into the old office. We got to visit with our neighbors at the house you restored. It looks great. My wife and I are on a little mission to beautify the grounds immediately outside our place...any chance you have any pictures of what the grounds looked like back when y'all worked here... This place needs some TLC and it would be good to preserve and restore.

John Buckley said...

Isaac: You might consider contacting Mrs. Tasa Buckley. She was Reid Buckley, the 9th of the 10 children brought up at Kamchatka, lived in one of the cottages for years. I believe Tasa still lives just outside of Camden in a home called Peor Es Nada. The garden between the office and what was once the breakfast room of the main house was a favorite spot of mine when my family (with out own 10 children) came for spring vacations visits from Connecticut. I commend you and wish you the best of luck with your mission!

James Heath said...

I am William Buckley, Sr.'s eldest grandchild. I often stayed in your new home when I visited. You're wrong on some details, however. The the Big House, as it was called, was their Winter home from about 1938 on. In the summers and through Thanksgiving, they remained at the home in Sharon, CT., Great Elm. Incidentally, you might be interested to know that for a time, the youngest of WFB's sons, Reid< lived with his family in Cottage #1 (as it was called back then) when he returned from living in Spain for many years. He brought with him his own four children and seven step-sons, a few of whom still live in Camden. I'm sure it was they who were so hard on the cottage. Couldn't have been my nine brothers and sisters or the other forty cousins who all stayed there at one time or another.