Strong and Sturdy
Strong and Sturdy

Before The Beekman was lovingly restored, it had been abandoned, left to weather the brutal elements atop the hill it has graced for more than two centuries.

The aging structure, with its grand rooms and firm place in the annals of the local lore, was far too much of a temptation for teenagers and vagabonds looking for a place to call their own.   The walls were pocked with graffiti and the hallways littered with remnants of other people’s lives.

One day, earlier this year, one of said teenagers stopped by the farm and asked if The Table was still there.    All she could remember about her time spent in the house was the massive table that stood in the dining room.

“No,” we said.

When we moved into The Beekman there wasn’t a stick of furniture, and we assumed that The Table had long since been turned into firewood by one of those former inhabitants as, from our visitor’s recollection, it was far too big to move.

Though in many modern homes the dining room is one of the most infrequently used (and is often absent all together), for The Beekman, it’s the most important piece of furniture in the house.

It must be big enough to hold the season’s harvest and serve up a celebratory meal.

It must have room for every visitor who stops by.

It must serve as a foundation for growing a business, for wrapping soaps, for slicing cheese and such

It must be sturdy enough to withstand angry fists pounding to emphasize a point and must not, repeat,  MUST NOT back down when confronted with tiny fists grasping crayons.

It also must be comfortable because sometimes, whether from exhaustion or emotion, sometimes you just need a place to lay your head down and cry.

Josh turns 40 this year, and I could think of no better gift to give him than…a dining room table.

Master carpenter Jim Sharer of Cherry Valley, NY worked on the restoration of The Beekman, replicating pieces of molding that exactly matched those that had been hand-crafted centuries ago.   There was no better craftsman to turn to.  Working with a giant red oak tree felled on his own farm, planks were hewn and then assembled and then sanded and smoothed and stained by my own hands.

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The result is a modern version of an old farm table, a 600lb, 7 ft by 8 ft ebonized monument to everything we hold dear.

Like our relationship, it is steadfast and stridently sufficient.   Far too large to move, once in place there it shall stay, marking our custodial turn at The Beekman long after we are gone, long after the teenagers and the vagabonds have returned and until someone, someday decides to use it for firewood.

What is YOUR dining room story?

by Dr. Brent

Reader Comments

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Terry Allison

I Love this story. Please think about placing a copy of this article safely tucked away beneath the table, so that if one day someone should think of using it for wood in a fire, they may think twice and see it, not merely as wood, but as love and commitment and life.

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Castro Felicita

Reading this for me was beautiful. I pictured everything you said in my head, step by step. Enjoy this wonderful table. :)!

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Heather

I cannot imagine a more romantic gift than such a table…

As a wedding gift, my now husband built an enormous outdoor rough-hewn pine farm table, inspired by my favorite movie “Antonia’s Line”.

Beautiful film, beautiful gift.

From Pablo Neruda’s “Ode to the Table”:

Tables are trustworthy…
they sustain
our hopes and our daily life…

The world
is a table
engulfed in honey and smoke…

The table is already set,
and we know the truth
as soon as we are called…

whether we’ll wear the pants of hate
or the shirt of love, freshly laundered.
It’s time to decide,
they’re calling:
boys and girls,
let’s eat!

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Amy

Dr. Brent,

I love the show and love tuning in to watch you, Josh, Farmer John and the animals.

The dining room table you made for Josh is spectacular!!

Kudos to you for remembering Josh wanting this and having it built for him and finishing it on your own.

It is definitely something to cherish and will hold an enormous amount of sentimental value.

Can't wait to watch next week. 🙂

Good luck to you all.

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Susy

Dear Dr. Brent,

What a lovely gift for Josh! Only you, with your discerning eye for detail could have orchestrated something of this magnitude.The table is a work of art and a true testament and symbol of your love.

I am probably the last person in the USA to know about your show, almost ashamed to tell you both how I came across watching it…but I will tell you.

Since my work is not a steady one, is either feast or famine and this month has been a lean one, they cut my satellite service, and Planet Green (not in my package) is one of two channels that comes in free this month.So you see, there is a silver lining after all!

I completely LOVE you both!I and the whole cast! have the complete first season on my DVR, I will cry and laugh again that's for sure. Keep up the good work, kisses to all the farm animals, until next time.

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Theresa McCormick

Just watched all the showes and have caught up and can't wait for the show to come on in a few weeks.

I love your farm, my grandparents had a farm as I was growing up and spent a lot of time planting and picking and digging the veggies.

Love the kitty's, love the animals,

love Farmer John

will be looking for your next show

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Gabrielle

Brent, what a beautiful post, especially paired with today's lovely post on the Glass House that you gave Josh, which will now sit on this table. Thank you for two beautiful essays! And may you and Josh enjoy Table and Glass House for many years to come. And I do have a question: The floor in the dining room is quite beautiful. Is that the original wide plank floor (how wide?!)? What type of wood and Is it stained? Wishing you, Josh, John, the goaties, your production staff, and all living things at the Beekman (heck, the dead things too – why not?) many blessings in the New Year.

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Charlotte

That story is one of my favorites. The episode is so sweet and the fact that you couldn't get it through the door made me laugh 🙂

I like how you compared your relationship to the table. I have noticed that you two make an amazing, yet relatable couple. You are an inspiration to all couples.

Thanks,

Charlotte

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Mary Rose

My Dad was a widower. This gave my siblings and I an alternative to where we ate. My Dad loved eating in front of the fireplace in the family room (football). We had a small dining room with 8 chairs, but it was used more as a buffet table.

Dad purchased a dilapidated round pedestal tiger paw dinner table. He cut the pedestal down to almost coffee table level. He traveled quite abit in the Air Force and on a trip to Spain, he picked up 12 very small chairs. Their called birthing chairs. We had all of our family celebrations on the table. Fondues, steaks over the fire. Friends & Foods from all over the world were gathered around the table w/the funny chairs. It also had, paints, playdough, Barbie dolls, model car kits and played poker at one time or another. Now, my brother lives in my childhood home with the table.

Your story touched my heart and I'm reliving a better part of my childhood.

Thanks and all my best to your family.

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kelly

My table's claim to fame was that it was used as a raft during the great flood of the Mississippi delta in 1927. Fearing the flood waters would soon reach Boef River farm , my family went upstairs to sleep but left a farm worker downstairs to keep watch through the night. The man soon fell asleep and upon waking realized that water had flooded the lower floors of the house. He had not drowned because the table ( his bed for the night ) just floated out of the house with him asleep on top! The table is now in my living room waiting for the day we move back to the farm.

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Andre Jones

My story is…My husband and I were shopping for a dinning room table. We were at huge store, with beautiful thin models; it felt more like "The Price is Right" than a furniture store. I chose a nice distressed table , and my husband flipped! He said, "I'm not buying a table that already looks used!"

So we followed the sexy model some more and both agreed on a nice solid Maple table with Queen Anne legs (don't know if the woman leading us had anything to do with that) but we still have that table, and after 19 years, still has not one inkling of distress.

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Andre Jones

That table is absolutely beautiful. And I just adore the colors of your dinning room!

Josh you are worth it!

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Connie Wedding

Wonderful table! That was a true act of love, and even more than the table itself, it is what was in your heart when you made it that is the true treasure.

BTW…it is amazing that those wood floors are still in such great shape after 2 centuries!! Awesome!

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Kimberly Cunningham

It is a family story….my parents have a dining room table, that is oak wood and has a lot of handcrafting on it at their house. Originally, the table was purchased for 5 cents in Canada by my great grandfather and brought to NY in 1898 on the back of a horse drawn wagon. It sat in our old victorian homestead's dining room until 1988 when our father had to sell the family farm. Many games were played on that table and many a meal was eaten there. It now sits in my parents smaller home that they purchased after selling the farm. Many a meal is still served there and many a conversation held around it, many pieces of birthday cake, turkeys and Christmas dinner consumer around it, and many decisions made. The cost of the table, 5 cents…..the memories, PRICELESS!!!!!

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Tony Pinho

There is nothing I love more than inviting 8 or 9 people for dinner on a Saturday night for dinner. I start preparing several days earlier and that Saturday is a non-stop cooking fest. I have the house cleaned the day before, usually for cat allergy friends. Just last week I had friends over and served a roasted vegetable salad with some traditional Portuguese dishes..kale soup and my Mom's codfish cakes. Then at least 4 dishes to choose from…one pot meals, comfort foods..mac and cheese, pasta, roasted chicken…and the wine does flow. Friends e-mail and tell me the next day that the food was good, the company great and that there cheeks hurt from so much laughter..what a great complement:) I love every minute of it:)

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Christy

I love it when that huge heart of yours outshines the perfectionist in your head, Brent! Excellent blog! Love the show! God bless you and your farm!

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Kerry

My husband spend two years of his spare time building me new kitchen cabinets from scratch. He sanded to perfection every one and stained everyone to perfection. Every time I have a problem with something he has done or not done, I look in my beautiful kitchen and think of all the time and love that went into those cabinets,and realize some things are not that important to argue about. P.S. He is great with a tape measure, but a real stickler about everything being done perfectly. Needless to say I'm not. I think my cabinets and Josh's table are true gifts of love.

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margaret thall

This story is about love so deep for another person.Handmade comes from the heart not from the money spent / I have a story about a ring/ when bob & I decided to make our relationship permanet we were very poor(3 kids among us ex wives & husbands)he wanted to give me a ring but we always put the kids needs first .He took a penny and filed it out to make a ring for me .that was in 1982 I still wear the ring (now have a diamond ring)as it means more to me than any diamond could ever/I love your table & it reminds of my brothers table with all the family & events of a big Irish family /laughing/ crying etc. Enjoy ! Take care peggy

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Nicole Flemmens

Oh Brent!

Reading this blog brings me to tears and allowed me to reminisce about our own search for the "perfect" table.

My husband and I married 14 years ago after 8 years of being high school sweethearts. We bought our first home and had nothing to put in it but hand-me-down furniture from our parents. We bought a $1500 couch and a tv and that was from wedding money. We. Were. Broke.

As the years progressed we added things here and there and eventually bought an unfinished table and 4 chairs from a local place–nothing special. We eventually moved it to the basement to turn our dining room into a playroom for our children. I was willing to be patient and I saved my money while I dreamed of my dining room-to-be. I watched with a quiet envy as my friends bought item after expensive item from Pottery Barn and Restoration Hardware, as I watched my kids play in a room full of toys, and stifled quiet giggles as I watched all of their expensive reproduction furniture become trashed by their children.

Flashforward to two years ago, I shared my passion for my dining room with my husband and told him about centering the decor around a handmade farm table. No Pottery Barn reproductions. I wanted a table that would withstand the elements of life–food and friends, casual and deep conversations, homework and games–but mostly, I wanted a table that would reflect our strength as a family and be worth the sacrifices of style that we made to have a kid-friendly home for so many years. I knew that with some modern decorating touches, a farm table would bring a flair to my home that all my Pottery Barn-buying friends would never have.

Living in PA Dutch country, I thought I would have no problem finding what I wanted. One night, I was surfing on Craig's List and found a craftsman just starting out his business. He was not Amish, but employed several Amish workers who brought every ounce of craftsmanship and work ethic to their job that they did in their own furniture-making businesses.

The result was an 8'x4' wormy chestnut table made from re-claimed barn wood from Lancaster County, PA. It has enormous turned legs in an antique black finish and a 5" thick table top with a natural tongue-oiled finish. We had to take the front door off the hinges to get it in the house, but it was worth it! We have hosted several dinner parties in the past year when we had never had guests over before. There was nowhere to sit, but now I have room to spare. Conversely, I love watching my kids do their homework and play board games at that table and never cry over spilled milk. We loved the work this craftsman did for us, we went back for a china cabinet, sideboard buffet and dry-sink that we use as a bar. All Handmade.

After the years of struggling to raise a young family, it is a privilege to have such a handsome reminder of how far we have come that will last well into the next generation.

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Greg D. Nunes

Brent how wonderful you are to undertake the dining room table project for Josh. I loved the story behind it and the emotion wrapped around it.

I also have a dining room table story.

My wife and I have been married 40 years and we were given a Dining room table as a wedding present from the parents of one of Linda's dearest friends. We very much apprieciated the gift and lived with it for many years even though it just wasn't "our table". We occasionally looked at tables but just never found the one we wanted. One day about 5 yrs ago Linda saw a table in the Napa Style Catalog. At the time Napa Style had a retail store in Berleley and we went to the store to see it and we both fell in love with it. When I sat down at it I said we have to have this big ass table. Linda agreed and we have hosted many a gathering around our table since, and yes the name stuck, we and all our friend and family refer to it as the "Big Ass Table". It comfortably seats 6 and has 3 leafs that expands it to seat 12. The best part is the leafs are stored in the table. Beautifully crafted, solid as a rock, it will be around for many generations.

Oh, and the old table…..Our sentimental 39 yr old son has it in his home now.

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Michael

I never really thought about the dining room table until I read your post. All of a sudden, the memories of my dear Granny came flooding back to me. I remember waking up every morning to the heavenly smell of homemade biscuits and gravy and eggs (cooked just the way I like them, fried with a soft yolk) and sausage. And the unforgettable smell of fresh brewed coffee. Of all the smells I remember, it has always been the coffee.

Granny moved in with my family after Papa died, I was 5. Every morning there would be that smell of fresh coffee. Granny would serve me my breakfast and sit at the table with me, drinking her coffee. She drank coffee ALL day. I don't know how the woman ever got an ounce of sleep.

I cherished every day I had with her. She instilled in me my love of the kitchen. She taught me how to cook and how to appreciate the bounty of God's earth.

I remember the last time I sat at that table with her. I was 20, home from college, and aching to be back at school. Granny was sitting there, drinking her coffee when a sudden pain overtook her. Mom rushed her to the hospital, but the cancer had spread too far. She passed away 17 days later, never having another cup of her beloved coffee.

When my Dad passed away, Mom downsized and gave me the dining table. Every time I look at it, I remember all the good times and wonderful meals I had at that table. I will always cherish that table and hopefully never be without it.

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Nancy

Ahhh – my family's dining room table, with it's 2 extra leaves and total of 6 chairs… a Captain's Chair (my father's – now mine), the Mate's Chair (my mother's – now empty), and 4 high backed spindle chairs.

EVERY meal was at that table (save for Sunday night's dinner on TV trays in front of Ed Sullivan.)

The most memorable were the holiday dinners:

My family was from Ohio and had no family in Virginia. Two doors down from us with was a family from Pennsylvania with no family in Virginia. Naturally, we all became extended family.

Holidays were shared – spent at each others homes – on a rotating basis. Easter this year at their house – 4th of July at ours – Thanksgiving at theirs – Christmas at ours. The next year rotated.

It was the ONLY time the table leaves were used. The table expanded to seat all nine of us. Extra chairs were required, of course. And Mom's fine crystal, china and sterling were used BY ALL – yes, even the children. (In those days, we'd be taught at a VERY early age how to behave around nice things.)

OH – another memory has popped in — of spaghetti dinners at that table. Mom would set the table with the red checked table cloth and red plastic handled cutlery. Dad would stand out in the kitchen and "pop" his cheek with his finger, then come out with a 16 oz. COLD cola bottle wrapped in a red checked napkin and very carefully pour a small amount of cola into my sister's or my WINE glass (depending on who's turn it was to "taste the wine.") My sister (the little hellion) I seem to recall TRIED to refuse the "vintage" one time. It didn't work, of course.

Mom was a schoolteacher – she taught 5th grade (and was my reading teacher in school – another story.) I remember her grading papers at that table.

I remember the time Dad has pulled some sort of joke at the table during a chili dinner. Mom took a chili bean up in her spoon and threatened to fling it at Dad…except her finger slipped. The bean flew across the room – Dad ducked JUST in time, and the bean landed on the wall behind him. As Dad came up – looking astonished, Mom's hand had flown over her gaping mouth. We all burst into laughter.

Somehow, Mom and Dad had found a hutch that matched the table perfectly. It was made from antique wood from an old barn, or so the story goes. Every Easter, when Mom would hide eggs in the house for us, I KNEW I could find an egg in each of the front "L" shaped legs.

Dad died long gone and Mom died two years ago. I'm so very proud to say I own the table, chairs and hutch now. The leaves live under my bed for safe-keeping. My sister owns the china and sterling now. We've split the crystal between us. I never use the crystal – not with five cats in the house.

I'm still very careful with my precious table and chairs. The rungs of the chairs have loosen with age and I've tried to reglue them (with varying results.) And what was the very first thing I did with the hutch? I carefully placed plastic Easter eggs in the two "L' shaped front legs…where they will always reside as long as I live.

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nancy

Dr. B…I love watching all of the Beekman extended family share the tender moments together.

Somehow, I believe you are including "us" in your life, trials,and tribulations. You have taken on a special mission to involve your audience in what it takes to live with as little impact on the earth as one possibly can.

Have you heard of Cropmob.org ? This may be of assistance to the local farmers in your area, including Beekman!

Also,have you considered geo-thermal heating??? Maybe get with "This old House" to do a few alternate power/heating projects for you (Beekman) and the "girls"?

Nothin' better than a cozy winter on the farm!

To all…thank you for sharing! Nancy

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Sherry

Dr. Brent,

My dinning room tale is old by my children s idea,almost 34 years now. I bought it unstained and rough. After much sanding and a few coats of stain and sealer it has been with me for several moves,one all the way across the county. It has burn marks from the pots and pan put directly on the table for years of meals,my grandchildren can see the scratches and scrapes of pencil,and pen from years of there fathers homework.It has been repaired more time then I can remember from years of 3 boys and their friend rough housing. Every family dinner I hear"mom get a new table this one is in rough shape,Grams this table is so old" but all I have to do is run my hand over the nicks and marks and I go back in time.

I hope this happens with your table, and I hope you both can look back and every time you sit down for dinner.

Keep up the love and good luck.

Sherry

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Susan McKenna

Dear Brent,

This is the first blog I have ever been inspired to engage in. Memories of our dining room table flooded my mind and I wrote on and on. When it was complete, I shared it with my son and daughter-in-law who informed me they loved reading it, but it was too long for a blog. Who knew? I want to share my ramblings with you and other followers of your blog, who have an interest and 'time on their hands. I'm hoping this attaches and will be able to be opened, but it it doesn't perhaps some 'techno-savy blogger could help.

We watch very little television, but "The Fabulous Beekman Boys" is something we look forward to each week. We (husband, sons, daughter-in-law, girlfriend, sister-in-law and myself) look forward endearingly to seeing your show with you, Josh, your beautiful home and farm, 'Polka Spot," and the rest of 'the girls,' "Farmer John" and friends and look forward to more Wednesdays at Beekman 1802 during the coming season.

I'd love to help with the tablecloth for lovely dining room table. Please send instructions and type of yarn being used.

Best regards,

Susan/Users/Susan/Desktop/The Dining Room Table.docx

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Lee Morelli

OMG now I know why I haven't been able to find a new show on On Demand!

Now what am I going to watch? I am devastated. (not really, but I really like your show)

I know you guys probably really need the break and hope you have a great summer.

Till we meet again.

Lee

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Maggie

Dear Josh,Brent and Farmer John:

Sorry to have come to the end of your 1st seaso, but it was wonderful. I've watched you all laugh, love, fight, makeup and keep growing. What a blessed experience. How alive you all have become, not just "office bugs."

I missed out on the Harvest Festival tickets, but hope spring eternal for next year.

Be well and truly loved,

Maggie McShane

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Patricia

Brent and Josh,

I have been addicted to your show, and books since discovering it a couple months ago. I am medically disabled with back problems, so I have extra time to watch and read. I just wanted to say how much I admire the 2 of you. My niece Kim and I are going to make it to Sharon Springs someday.Maybe we'll see you at The American for cocktails! Keep doing what you're doing…..you're awesome!

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Jimmy

No problem Dr. Brent. I purchased the 12 month soap set and some cheese. I hope to visit Sharon Springs with my wife and daughter in the Fall. If you need any shoes for the barn please feel free to visit my website at http://www.SteppinBirkenstock.com. You guys are Great! All the best of Luck.

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Tracy

Dear Brent,

I am now all alone in this world but I have some beautiful china for 12 that would be beautiful in your home.(matching linens too) Since I have no one to invite over nor a table to eat at, I would love to donate this china to you and Josh. This show has really brightened my life. I would be happy to send photo's of the china.

Tracy

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Dr. Brent

Tracy,

What a kind, kind thought. Where do you live? Maybe if we are ever in your town we can stop by with 9 of our friends!

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Jason

Hi Brent and Josh

I love the show. You are living the "farm life" I dream about while living in Florida, which is generally too hot to grow good veggies…but the orchids sure grow like weeds!

I just got a dining room table of my own for the first time in…well..ever. I just got the house with the space for it. It was a $35 buy at a local thrift shop. It's great! and it has leaves to make it so the table seats 8. I can now cook the bounty of whatever I can find at Whole Foods and have people over. It's great to have good food, friends and conversation in the house. I often wonder at how many meals have been had at this table before it came to my house…what caused that scratch? what made that mark? what was in that glass that left the faint circular stain?…and I wonder how many more scratches, meals and conversation this table will see…

love the show. love the goats. Wonderful to see the love put back into the Beekman. It's beautiful.

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Sabino

Josh and Brent,

What a cool show dudes! Thanks for sharing all the good, funny and challenging tasks you have taken to make your lives and show successful.

And, Brent, WHAT A TABLE!!!! I have been looking for one of those super cool tables for my house for a long, long time. Whenever you decide to start another successful business hand-making tables as simple, as elegant, as strong and as a family-gathering magnet, please let me know because I will be your first client on the list!!!! And, JOSH, enjoy your table for the many happy years to come with BRENT!

You guys ROCK! and your products too!!!!!

Continue having tons of success!

Your friend,

SABINO

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Amanda Lampkin

Hey I love the show!

Did you ever think of having tours at the Beekman Mansion, maybe like one day a week or somehting? That would be great!

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