In 2017, we began hosting J1 Visa Work/Travel Exchange Students from Russia. We hosted four sweet, hard-working, dedicated girls. They joined our tiny family team that cares for the grounds and homes here at French’s Point. We had an incredible experience so in 2018, we welcomed 6 young ladies from two different Russian universities for the summer at French’s Point. It provides our family the opportunity to host these brilliant young girls, help them refine their grasp of the English language, experience the culture here on the Maine coast, make friends and see a magical part of the world. We also get to know their lovely souls, understand their world and expose our kiddos to another culture. Without these ladies, our family would not be able to be effective stewards of French’s Point. There just are not enough hours in the day for our family to do all the work that must be done for us to offer these homes to our guests. We are grateful beyond words for the opportunity to be apart of their lives and for their help and care for our family legacy. If you see that girls at French’s Point this summer, please say hello and “Spasiba”!
French’s Point is a beautiful property. But even more beautiful is the family behind the facilities. In this blog series, we will introduce you the members of the Brooks/Brewer family that made it their mission to share this property with special clients seeking a private and beautiful location for their events. This business will be a legacy for future generations at French’s Point, all thanks to the love that has tied us to the land for almost 100 years.
Meet Grandmother Bonita Tilton Brooks
Bonita grew up in Sidney, Maine. She was the oldest of six children born to a Marine and a pediatric nurse. Bonnie was a busy and energetic child… traits that remain to this day along with her youthful exuberance. A farm girl from childhood, Bonnie has lent her green thumb, indelible work ethic and sweat equity to these estates since we purchased them in 2002. At the time, the near 20 acres were primarily free of any landscaping. Aside from the beautiful wild blueberry fields, there was very little other grounds work.
Bonnie’s dedication to the physical beauty of this environment and the vision she has had for the grounds have shaped the enhancements made over the last 11 years. From terraces to overlooks, the acres of formal gardens, to the new organic produce garden and orchard, Bonnie has been the brain, and the green thumb, behind it all. The family jokes that we rarely see Bonnie’s beautiful smile because her head is always in a shrub, bush or garden from sun up to sundown.
From the beginning, Bonnie has felt a connection to this land that is evident not only in the beauty of her landscaping but also in her passion for each living thing here. There are so many incredible stories about Bonnie’s ties to French’s Point, but my favorite are these:
One: There were originally four red oak trees that the church had planted around 1885 to the west of the estate. Over the course of time, 3 of the trees fell to disease or storm damage. Only one remained when we began the restoration of French’s Point Estate in 2006. One major limb was split from 100 years of campers climbing up for photos by the dozens. The roots of the tree were wrapped around the posts on which the estate sat which were being replaced with a full foundation. Ultimately, we decided that the tree had to go. Bonnie climbed up into that tree and would not come down until we agreed to save the tree… her own little sit-in. It worked. We worked around the tree and she has lovingly repaired and continues to care for this beautiful tree which at sunset resembles the most beautiful bonsai tree.
Two: We have planted over 3200 plants, trees and shrubs over the 20+ acres in our time here. It’s no small feat to find Bonnie on any given day. We insisted she carry her cell phone so we could avoid successive long walks in attempt to locate her. One particular day, she had just completed planting a row of several new trees. Suddenly she realized she had lost her phone (not unusual). What was unusual was that the ringing was coming from the ground where she had just laid a new sapling to grow.