A LANDMARK Wareham building has been lovingly restored and re-opened as a gallery and furniture business.
Dorset designers and furniture makers, Esme and Jason Cameron, took on their ‘dream challenge’ in July 2022 – to restore a Georgian shop and home, where they can live and operate their businesses – Cameron Furniture and the Grange Gallery.
Having worked together for many years as professional designers and makers, between them they have many sizeable build projects under their belts, so they were well seasoned for the restoration journey that lay ahead.
When people of Wareham are asked about their Georgian property many are quick to share their affection for its historic charm and often have memories of it as the popular family Greengrocers, Bests of Wareham.
The family served the community with fresh floral arrangements and fruit and veg for more than 50 years and latterly for the past 30 years it was a gift shop, County Theme.
The Grade II* listed property was in a rather sorrowful condition when Esme and Jason purchased the property in 2022, in need of some ‘serious attention’ to save it falling into further disrepair, they said.
However, once the couple got the green light from Dorset Council and English Heritage for the project, they became a fixture on the high street throughout the winter and spring months.
In all weathers, the community and visitors watched and wished them well as the couple meticulously restored the façade of the property.
“We had to start with the roof, as the building had sustained water damage on the inside and on the outside because of failing flashing, broken tiles and guttering,” they said.
“We then cleaned and painted the building, restored all the sash windows on the top two floors, before getting our feet on the ground to start on the shop façade.”
But it was painstaking work, they said, as they uncovered original features and fine detailing.
“The restoration work, especially on the shop façade and town house entrance, took it’s time because we had to be so careful, we uncovered original features and fine detailing that had almost been lost forever because of the water damage the façade had been exposed to,” they said.
Summer 2023 saw the completion of their first phase of the restoration – the frontage itself.
And later in the summer, Esme and Jason opened the doors to Grange Gallery, where they both showcase their own art, homeware and furniture that they design and make at the gallery’s workshop, alongside regular exhibits by local artists and makers.
The opening of the gallery supports Esme and Jason’s continued restoration and preservation of this charming 260-year-old historic property, which is open from 10am to 4pm, Wednesday to Saturday.
“The support of the local community, businesses and visitors to Wareham has been overwhelming, we could not have wished for a warmer welcome to the town,” they added.
“We received so many wishes of support from passers-by especially during those cold, wet winter months – it really meant so much to us.”