Sandy at Reluctant Entertainer is having another Home Is. . . party today. Today's topic is "sharing a family heirloom."
The heirloom I love best is in my dining room. Actually, my dining room is the heirloomiest (that's not a word, but you know what I mean) room in my house. My dining room furniture belonged to my mom, several pieces of my crystal were my mom's, etc. All in all, I don't have many heirlooms: my husband and I both come from families who never had much. But we have a few prized possessions, and to me the very best piece is this:
It's a deacon's bench from my grandmother's little church in Belle Plaine, Kansas.
In 1876, my grandmother's forebears set out from Jamestown, Kentucky to seek a better life in the West. They settled in Kansas. Belle Plaine is one of those wonderful little prairie towns where the biggest attraction is the community swimming pool and the tallest building is the grain elevator. I have such fond memories of spending summers there when I was a child. Life in Belle Plaine was simple and fun, especially since my grandmother was one of nine siblings, all of whom lived close to her. Lots of cousins to play with; lots of aunts and uncles to keep an eye on us and make sure we didn't get into too much trouble.
The deacon's bench is from the church of which my grandmother was a member for all her adult life--the church where my mother grew up, was baptized, got married. I can still imagine the smell of that building. . . a mixture of flowers, old wood, and the damp earth of the deep basement. The old church building was torn down when I was a young woman, but a few pieces from the building were salvaged, including this deacon's bench, which became my grandmother's. My grandmother died in 1999, and this is one of the pieces my mother inherited. Then my mother died later that same year (not a good year, let me tell you), and somehow I was the lucky one who inherited the deacon's bench. I just love it.
Several years ago (and several houses ago), an interior designer friend of mine helped me with a few rooms in my house. It was his idea to put the deacon's bench at the dining room table. I've moved three times since then, but I've continued to use the bench there in every house. Now my kids argue over who gets to sit on it at holiday meals. I hosted a bridal shower a few weeks ago, and we moved the bench into the living room. Three young women sat there throughout the shower. It's pretty beat up, but still sturdy after all these years.
Here are a few more photos of my dining room. The walls above the chair rail are a deep, brownish red. I know, I know. . . red dining rooms are passe'. . . but I still love the color in this room. I guess I'm more of a tradition-keeper than a trend-setter.
How about you? Do you have any prized heirlooms? Join Sandy at Reluctant Entertainer to read about more--or share your own!