Left to right, Marsha, Vanessa and Mari, three of the four staff members at Cranewood On Main, prepare for lunch hour at the café. Ellen (not shown) the new pastry chef, joined the staff earlier this month. LEBLANC PHOTO
By Joan LeBlanc
SACKVILLE, NB – One of Sackville’s historic buildings has been given a new life and a new purpose for the future.
Cranewood, a Georgian style house was built in 1836 for William Crane (1785-1853), an early Sackville merchant and politician. The house later passed to prominent politician and businessman Josiah Wood and his family. Mount Allison University bought the property in 1975 and until last year it was the home of the universities’ president.
In 2013 the property was purchased by the Fisher family in Sackville and since that time it has been repurposed to include a bakery featuring many organic breads, freshly-made lunches and snacks and other confections, as well as an events facility.
Facilities manager Mari Fisher said last week that it was important to her family to maintain the heritage of the building, while giving it another useful purpose.
“This is a wonderful old building, it has so much history in its walls; we wanted to maintain that integrity and keep it as we feel it should be,” she said.
The building is being maintained to keep its original state and will be going through a constant restoration over the next few years so to preserve the historical value that the structure holds. The Fishers are working closely with the Sackville Heritage Board through the various restoration projects. Currently the heating system is being upgraded to a very modern bio mass heating system that will be burning wood pellets manufactured right here in New Brunswick.
“This helps to support the local economy and keeps the Cranewood footprint as green as possible,” she noted.
The bakery at Cranewood On Main opened in late 2013 and despite the tough winter weather, has continued to grow and attract more customers.
“We’re so fortunate to have Marsha Lemos as our baker. She has had a very loyal clientele over the years when she has been in business on her own or working in other places so now – rain or shine - they come to Cranewood to buy Marsha’s wonderful breads and the other delicious foods she makes,” Fisher said.
Of course Cranewood bakery also has many new customers as well, to the bakery and small on-site bistro. The addition of an outside, shaded café as also begun to attract noon-time diners, she added.
“Many of our breads are organic and we try to buy as much local baking supplies as we can, and from the local vendors, like fruit and veggies. We put a lot of thought and consideration into what we use in everything; we like to put just good things into our food,” she said.
The Cranewood bakery maintains a regular baking schedule, baking different breads each day of the week, including gluten-free items on Tuesday. They are open all-day Monday through Friday and until 2 p.m. on Saturday and employ four full-time staff...
The bakery is located at the rear of the building, utilizing the former kitchen.
“We really didn’t change all that much in the kitchen; of course we added a commercial oven and refrigerators, but everything else - the cupboards, the counters - is pretty much as it was when the university owned it. We wanted to keep that nice, homey feel and I think it’s still a very appealing place for people,” Fisher said.
The Georgian charm of the old house also remains as it has since its early years in the last century. Entering the front door, the scene is dominated by a large entryway and sweeping staircase, with spacious dining and living rooms spilling off of it. Some of the original furniture remains in the house and the Fisher’s have added more antique pieces to complement the heritage décor.
These rooms are now offered on a rental basis for various events and occasions.
“It’s really a lovely place to hold weddings or meetings, or for such events as birthdays, anniversaries, reunions or other occasions. I had my wedding here in December and we have two others coming up in August. We also cater, so for one of the weddings we’re doing all of the food for the reception,” she noted.
Structure-wise, Fisher said the old building is in good shape and except for the reconstruction of the wood portico at the front of the house; very little changes will be made to either the interior or exterior of the structure.
“Pretty much nothing has been adjusted since we took over the building. We feel it’s important to keep the historical significance of Cranewood, even though its use is different,” she said
Keep up with the progress at Cranewood by checking their website or by liking them on Facebook.