A wooded family retreat: ‘This is where we all play’

06/24/2012 12:00 AM

06/25/2012 4:31 PM

Not only did Jim and Frankie McLean build a comfortable home in the country, they built a one-room playhouse in the backyard for the kids, filled with pint-sized housewares and fingerpaints.

It’s beside a garden for digging and sprinklers for cooling off.

Near an old magnolia for climbing and a fire pit for roasting marshmallows.

“This is where we all play,” said Frankie McLean, 65, the mother of three and grandmother of five.

Jim McLean, 68, was born and raised in Blythewood.

The McLean name goes back seven generations in Northeast Richland County.

The two-story home the couple built in 1972 on 15 acres of family land is filled with the reminders of ancestors, whether it’s a deep porcelain sink, a colorful quilt or potted ferns nearly a half-century old.

Their property, off a two-lane road at the edge of Blythewood, is wooded.

The honeysuckle is fragrant.

Relatives live in shouting distance, sharing a view of a large pond.

Last summer, the McLeans said, they noticed a barred owl that arrived each evening at 7:45 p.m., swooping into the yard on the hunt for crickets and other critters.

It was such a sight, they invited friends over for a party, to watch.

Dawn Hinshaw writes about people, historic preservation and county government for The State.

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