On past Christmas Eves, about 75 people would squeeze into Mamie Sallee’s small, White Mills farmhouse to celebrate as a family. Years later, her granddaughter went to the bank to save that memory-filled home.
“I can remember where furniture was,” Sarah Mraz, 30, said. “The way the house smelled. The stories, and how Mamaw used to sing when she would sew. She didn’t have a great voice, but it was great singing.”
Mamie, then 94, moved into a nursing home in 2004. Her cherished farmhouse was put up for auction so she could receive government assistance to pay for her new residence. She died seven months later.
“I didn’t want anyone outside of the family to buy the house, and at the time, no one in the family was looking to buy,” Sarah said. “There are just too many memories here.”
Sarah decided to purchase the home and 30 acres her grandmother owned. Sarah and several family members now own the 110 acres that comprise Sallee Farm.
She is renovating the home while maintaining the integrity of the 1920s-era residence.
“Some people told me I should bulldoze the house over and start fresh,” said Sarah. “That might have been the most logical thing to do, but I just couldn’t see doing that.”
Sarah married PJ Mraz in 2009, and her husband moved to the farm from the sailboat he had lived on in Tampa, Fla.
“I like how the house is important to Sarah,” PJ said. “It’s neat that there is something from her family that she can hold on to, because I don’t have anything like that from my family.”