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The beginning

We all have a story. This is ours. 

It might not be what you expect. My guess is that the majority of couples between 55 and 60 are looking at retirement and planning trips or other leisure time activities. Not us. My husband Houston and I chose to do something we’ve never done before and to work harder than we’ve ever worked. It didn’t start out that way, though.

Houston was in the software industry before beginning a business with his brother George in the 1990’s. The company, Clark, designs and installs audio, video and lighting systems for large auditoriums. I have an undergrad and masters degree in education and am a freelance writer. As an outsider looking in, you might think, why a farm? Why a farm to table venue? And why glamping?

Like most business ideas, Purdon Groves wasn’t built overnight. Instead, there were a lot of people and experiences that went into how we now spend our days.

In 2012 we moved from the Atlanta suburbs to Dallas, Texas, to start an office for Houston’s growing company. It was only going to be for a year, maybe less, but we fell in love with Dallas - and Texas - and decided to make the Lone Star State our permanent home. We rented out our Atlanta townhouse for a few years and sold it less than five years after moving west.

Then Houston inherited property in Arkansas. We decided to sell it and buy something closer. We loved living in a high rise in the city, but wanted a place we could retreat to on the weekends. And that’s not all.

Because my husband interacted with creative directors, musicians and other artistic people in his role at Clark, he recognized that so often those folks are underpaid, underappreciated and overworked. We also began attending a church in Deep Ellum which drew a diverse group of creatives. Being a part of this community instilled in us a desire to create a place where artists could come to be inspired and practice their craft. The idea for our Artist Work Exchange program was born. We would provide opportunities for artists working on a project to stay free of charge in exchange for a morning of work.

So began several months of looking at property within two hours of our Dallas loft. In 2017 we bought the acreage that is now Purdon Groves, just outside of Corsicana. We looked at numerous properties. Each was either clear cut or overgrown. And almost none had a pond. The land in Purdon had been lovingly hand cleared by the owner. Groves of trees gave way to open pastures and each tree was pruned to enable him to drive his tractor underneath. Our jaws literally dropped when we walked onto the property. 

Within two months we were the proud owners of 21 acres in Purdon, Texas. While we had already begun talks with our architect and others who were interested in our project, once we could call the land ours, the real adventure began.

To be continued…

This piece first appeared in Sherry’s column, Finding Myself in a Small Town, in the July 30, 2022 edition of the Corsicana Daily Sun.

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