PaperCity Magazine

Round Top Summer 2024

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also important — a passion for Hickey, who planted oak trees surrounding the house and restored the harmonious native grasses. P eggy prepared a thorough timeline and narrative, which she emailed after our visit. In it she observed, "It is remarkable that no matter how many amazing places Blaine Hickey and Ogden Robertson traveled to around the world, not to mention all the amazing interiors they photographed, they wanted for themselves a simple farmhouse. We think this is where their eyes were finally allowed to rest. The farm was acquired by our family in 2022. Our intent is to be good stewards and honor the extensive restoration done by Hickey and Robertson." Peggy also shared a letter that conveys the spirit of the place. "Later in life, Blaine wrote about his 56th birthday party, held in 1987, on the nearly finished front porch," Peggy said. "He described in walked across the dam, and the view across the water back toward the house up the hill was enchanting. My head was full of dreams of things I wanted to do with the place — somehow speed up the development of the native prairie, develop vegetable gardens and beds for flowers, plant fruit trees, berries. I wanted everything it was possible to have from the land." Gallerist Betty Moody, who knew Hickey and Robertson well, recalls happy times at the farmhouse, and the story of how it came to be. "It's a great house," she says. "My good friend and my next-door neighbor in Chappell Hill, John Zimmerman, found the house for Blaine and Ogden many, many years ago and had it moved to its present location. John had a company called Carpitects, and they restored historic buildings in Washington, Austin, and Fayette counties. He restored many buildings in Round Top and Winedale and Brenham. John and Bill (Steffy, Moody's late husband) were the best of friends. We went to many a Sunday brunch at Blaine and Ogden's home — sat on that elegant, simple front porch and looked at the beautiful meadow. Many people from Houston went to those brunches — Blaine and Ogden were marvelous cooks and made killer mimosas and Bloody Marys. The good times!" After two visits with Peggy and Mike in New Ulm — capped by a delightful lunch following our photo session and a cozy dinner aligned with this past spring's antiques show — one can confidently foretell that the good and happy times will most certainly continue at the farmhouse. The Strodes not only purchased their rural retreat and its beautiful acreage, but organically acquired the t win traditions of hospitality offered by a time-honed, 140-year-old country house and reverence for the land, both ideals established by Hickey and Robertson almost a half century ago. detail each guest and how they enjoyed the beloved farm. He wrote, 'The house became more impressive and charming with each completed stage of work. The electrician had almost completed the wiring; the air-conditioning man would soon be called in; and if the dry weather held, work would begin the following week on the road to the house.'" Peggy quoted Hickey's description of that day at the farm: "I was in a state of euphoria. I can't remember ever being more happy, when our whole little world seems the realization of our dreams … the contentment and pleasure and enjoyment of everyone seemed a part of my own — it flowed and crisscrossed, as eddies in one large pool of happiness." For Hickey, the simple pleasures of the house and the surrounding land trumped any fancy interior they'd ever captured on film. He wrote of his birthday gathering: "We walk to the pond. It was beautiful, full to the brim. A red maple we had planted on one side was beginning to lose the fiery crimson of its spring growth. We Upstairs, a window seat makes for a cozy nook. Opposite page, clockwise from top left: A charming sitting area separates two upstairs bedrooms. Peggy and Mike Strode at the farmhouse front door, which retains its original key. The farmhouse today, after a decade of renovation by Hickey and Robertson and sympathetic additions by a later owner. 40

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