People & Places – Sunbeam Steward Jillian

by | Feb 10, 2022 | Maine Seacoast Mission, News, Sunbeam

Jillian at home.

CHERRYFIELD, ME – My name is Jillian. I am the Steward on the Maine Seacoast Mission’s beloved Sunbeam, a job I love. To steward is a pleasing verb meaning to look after. I am proud of the title. As steward, I am responsible for stocking the boat with food and provisions for our trips to islands. Besides making meals for my mateys and guests, and welcoming visitors, I keep things tidy, and bake a lot of cookies.

There are so many Maine spots so close to me I cherish. The many hiking and skiing trails on our road endlessly entertain us. There’s the neighborhood swimming hole on balmy summer days. Behind our house we love to explore the Narraguagus River in canoes and kayaks in summer; on foot, skates, skis and snowshoes when the river is frozen.

My favorite place in Maine is central to all these options: our house. When we aren’t out playing in nature, I especially love being home, making art in my studio, growing vegetables in the dooryard, homestead chores, feeding the wood stove, puttering with Steve, and playing with our pets, Banana and Clarence.

I call our house my recycled castle because my partner, Steve, built it with reclaimed materials. It is a timber framed salt box, a work in progress since 2003.

For beams and lumber Steve dismantled the historic old Cherryfield Grange. He started that project in the fall, with instructions to have the big building gone before April.

While dismantling, Steve found an 1823 coin under the threshold, an old construction dating custom. Some Grange timbers were even older and had notches from earlier use. Reusing these big old beautiful timbers Steve and our friend, Tim, put up the post-and-beam frame in the fall of 2004. We moved in the summer of 2005, racing to hang insulation before winter set in.

That first year we didn’t have staircases between the floors, and we hauled water from the neighbor’s hand pump well.

Steve still has a keen eye for building supplies he can glean and utilize for our house. He turned old hand carved doors and pressed tin into paneling. Over the years we’ve scored parquet flooring for our grand foyer, (aka wood stove room), old light fixtures, railings from a church, ceramic tiles, and glass doors. Our bay window was a floor model at a store. Steve turned a bowling alley lane into our kitchen counter.

Creating our space as we go, and as building fodder presents itself, is fun and gratifying. I don’t think Steve will ever call our house finished. He is now working on a screened-in porch using lumber made out of trees felled on our land, planed at our friend Sam’s mill. For the screening he will use panels from someone’s old gazebo. Steve jokes that it is time to remodel. I say, “Honey, I love our cozy nest. Our recycled castle is already done enough for me.”

But, boy, it sure will be nice to have a screened-in porch. It can get ridiculously buggy here tucked in the woods!

Learn more about the Sunbeam and crew.