Cottage Industry

A decorative painter keeps busy in her historic home

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Chances are good that you’ve done a double-take at the sight of the little red house on Rochambeau Avenue. That’s exactly what happened to Nancy Sherren, who daydreamed about the humble property until spotting a For Sale sign. Going against the concerns of friends over buying a house built in 1793, she trusted her gut and says, “I have enjoyed not only living in the house but all of the various projects on the house. I think it was truly meant to be!” For twenty-seven years, Sherren, husband Jim Feeley, and their poodle Buddy, have made the Morris Brown House their own. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the vernacular farmhouse with a gambrel roof has three rooms on the first floor and three on the second. Through the years the couple has made various modifications for comfort, but for decorating, Sherren tries to keep the interior as historically accurate as possible, which means adhering to a period style known as Fancy.

“This was the time after the American Revolution and during the start of the Industrial Revolution. People had the opportunity to purchase some manufactured goods and had some financial income to do it with,” she says, noting, “I do not buy high-end antiques. They wouldn't look right in an old farmhouse. I do like to collect farming tools; I love the yokes hanging by the patio.” From the home, Sherren creates and sells hand-painted mats in a business named for its first owner: Morris Brown House Floorcloths. “Sometimes I look at my house from the outside and, considering the gambrel shape of the house, think it looks like a red mother hen sitting on her roost and I am a lucky chick sheltered under her wings.”

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