‘Leave history behind me’: Rough and Ready resident Veronique Sepulchre seeks new homes for Belgian antiques
Rough and Ready resident Veronique Sepulchre says she wants to pass on the pieces of history which she brought with her from Belgium over three decades ago.
Sepulchre first moved to the U.S. in 1978, living in Louisiana for several years and moving back to Belgium for several more, before ultimately realizing she wanted to make a more permanent return.
Since arriving in Nevada County, she has taught French language at local schools, including the former John Woolman School, which operated at the Nevada City campus now known as the Sierra Friends Center — her first teaching job locally, and the reason she moved to Rough and Ready — as well as at Bitney Springs Charter School and Sierra College’s Grass Valley campus, and with private clients.
The antique Belgian furniture which currently fills her home, said Sepulchre, has been a facet of her hands-on teaching style. She said that, shortly before his death, her father expressed concern to her about what would happen to the family’s belongings stretching back generations given that she was moving to the U.S.
“And I said, ‘Dad, don’t worry. I will take them with me, and that will be part of my teachings to the students that I’m teaching,’” said Sepulchre.
With the students she taught from her home, she said, she would often broaden the scope of her teaching through dinner parties.
“I was cooking with them, I taught the recipes in class and then hands-on, we were cooking — and then, they were coming into my home,” said Sepulchre, adding that students were often startled to learn that a piece of furniture they were touching was 300 years old.
Now that she plans to move back to Belgium in the upcoming two years, she is seeking new homes for the furniture.
“I cannot move back to Europe in two years with everything, and I want to pass it on to people who have respect,” she said.
Following the decision to move, she opened her home up to her current students — of which she says she has around five per week recently — and friends, offering them first choice. She said they happened to gravitate toward some of the oldest pieces — a wooden screw over 6 feet tall and 200 years old, which was part of a mechanical wine press, and stools which were constructed in 1965, but are made from a 400-year-old salvaged step from a Belgian castle stairway.
Other pieces in her home range between the “youngest,” from the 1950s, and the early 1800s.
Sepulchre grew up hearing stories about the furniture from her parents, who she said would be 110 and 115 years old now. She has a wooden chest, for example, which has a hidden compartment her mother once used to keep gold from being confiscated by Germans during World War II, and her father’s wooden secretary desk which bears a scar across one of its panels from damage caused by a German V-2 rocket which hit Belgium in 1939.
“It fell one floor, and when my parents came out of the basement, they found that on the second floor instead of the third floor, and there was nothing above them but the sky,” said Sepulchre. “The whole top of the house had collapsed, gone.”
In addition to the antique furniture, much of which is Belgian and was passed down to her by family members, Sepulchre is also selling several paintings as well a lamp and baby cradle made locally.
Sepulchre noted that, on her online listing of the items for sale, she has not specified prices.
“And I do it purposely, because I would like people to offer a price, from where I can discuss with them with respect of the quality of my items, but I’d rather have somebody who really cares for a piece than a big check,” said Sepulchre.
“That’s my point of view. I want to leave history behind me.”
Victoria Penate is a staff writer with The Union. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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