Unique Bremen home a dream come true

Local home featured in popular magazine
BREMEN — One local Bremen farm home — one that has been a bit of a dream come true for its owners, is currently being featured in a popular farming magazine.
Rise Early Acres Farm — which owner Lori (Loretta) Vandivier Rea explains was named to signify the letters of she and husband Paul’s last name — is featured in Farm & Ranch Living magazine’s Aug./Sept. 2012 issue. Farm & Ranch Living claims that since 1978, its staff has “worked hard to be inspiring, heartfelt, entertaining, friendly, warm and fun to read” and includes short articles, essays, agricultural photos, and month-long diaries written by farm and ranch families made available to readers six times a year.
“We built the home (at 65445 Elm Road) two years ago on the land my parents (Erma and Roscoe “Van” Vandivier) brought me home from the hospital to,” said Lori. “As a child we had goats, and pigs and crops. I moved from here more than 30 years ago.”
She said her husband’s job took them to exciting places including Pongo, Pongo, South America to New Mexico and later to Connecticut where they made their home for 24 years.
“I always wanted to come back home,” Lori explained. “It was my dream to build a house on the family farm. I wanted us to retire here and when I found out I had Parkinson’s (disease) five years ago, I knew we had to speed that up a little.”
She said her sister stayed in the home they grew up in, adding to it a pool, sun room and hot tub, and refurbishing it on the other side of a field from where the Rea’s home stands now. What the Rea’s did was create a home from designs of Lori’s accumulated years of planning what she wanted in a dream home for her retirement.
“I had three, three-ring binder notebooks that had cut outs, sketches, pictures and articles of how I wanted things,” Lori said. “The house got changed many times but once it was done, I felt like I had already been here from how I saw it in my head. Much of the furnishings are sentimental but some things I ordered for this house while I lived in Connecticut and I just didn’t open them because they were for this home I was planning.”
Some of the features the home includes inside is a spiral staircase that leads up through the silo, the house itself resembling a barn. The Rea’s had 78 truck loads of gravel to make a bank barn to lean from the ground to the top of the “barn” so they could drive directly up. The inside is entirely handicapped-accessible with pullout dish cupboards and pantry and Lori can easily go directly from the garage to the kitchen.
“We tried to think of everything when planning for the future,” she explained. “We have a walk-in tub with a TV monitor and a washer and dryer in the bathroom.”
Other unique features include the home’s interior doors which are authentic barn doors on tracks and Dutch barn doors which open top and bottom separately. The 2,000-square foot structure has a walkout basement with an unfinished apartment, and extra-wide stairs to the basement,
Lori explained that she and Paul acted as their own general contractors though they had no previous associated experience. She was a paralegal and he recently retired from being a computer programmer for banking firms.
“We used www.ubuildit.com,” she said. “It helps you through it from setting up permits to hiring contractors.”
The man awarded the job for the creation of Rise Early Acres Farm was Steve Yoder of Middlebury.
As well as being a construction supervisor, Lori authored “Ghosts of the Connecticut River” before publishing the children’s title “Eddie Builds a House” — a sweet story written about the happy, mixed-breed neighborhood pet that “helped” builders construct the Rea house.
“Every day a new crew contractor would be seen by him as a potential friend,” Lori explained good-naturedly. “One of them he ate the man’s sandwich for. … He oversaw everything and made sure he said hello to everyone every day.”
She said when she opened her home for a book signing those that attended were treated to a visit by Eddie, who of course came by to see what all the commotion was about. Many of them stopped to take their picture with the star of the publication.
“I began signing my name and then his with a little paw print,” Lori said laughing. “Poor thing was always getting in trouble.”
Viewing her declining condition as a blessing isn’t always easy but Lori said she now has more time for writing, floral design and dabbling in oil painting. “I don’t know how good I am but I am enjoying it a lot,” she admits.
The Rea’s have two grown children, Rustin and Rhonda and four grandchildren, but who they open their home to goes well beyond family and friends.
“We’ve had groups in like the Homemakers Club, Red Hat Society and others,” Lori explained. “We really enjoy letting people see what we’ve done.”
It was an open house that led to the Rea’s home being featured in the popular rural magazine. “We are subscribers but someone suggested we send in some photos and our story and see if they wanted to publish it,” Lori said. “My daughter-in-law is a professional photographer so she took photos and I wrote something and sent it in but didn’t hear anything from them for two years.”
But when she did hear, the Reas heard that they would be a feature.
“Almost everything in the house has its own story,” Lori said. “The big tires from my father’s tractor are now planted with flower beds and the smaller tires are tire swings for our smaller grandchildren. We have a wine barrel as a table. Our furniture we reupholstered in denim and accented with pillows made from red bandanas to keep with the farm feel. The roll top desk is my father’s and the buffet in the great room is my grandmother’s. I even have a hope chest that someone made for my mother years ago and we used a pitchfork as a curtain rod.”
The Reas also have the soda fountain stools and a gumball machine from her husband’s grandfather’s Tribe-O-Rea drugstore in Mishawaka. Many other items like a butter churn or antique ladders accent the home and give it charm and that good old authentic country feel.
Those that would like to tour the Rea’s Rise Early Acres Farm can email paulandlori@riseearlyacres.com to see about setting up an appointment. Lori can also be contacted to purchase a copy of either of her books by calling 574-633-4164.