The limestone stoop to a former Greek Revival townhouse that once stood on this site. Jim Bruner | Mezzacello

What you are looking at is the foundation stones from a house that used to sit on this lot. Every garden bed we build we know we are going to excavate some foundation. Luckily at this point we have a pretty good idea of exactly what the footprint of those houses was. But it doesn’t make the job any easier.

At this point I have pulled 200 stones up out of the ground. At least half of those are now being used to shore up the interior foundations of the house. While the house was Abandonned some of the interior cellar walls collapsed. I have rebuilt those walls with “garden rocks”. Everything has a purpose and a use at Mezzacello. Everything.

Another stone pulled from the parterre garden bed at Mezzacello. Jim Bruner | Mezzacello

When the houses that used to sit on the plots that comprise the grounds at Mezzacello were abandoned, condemned, and eventually razed, they only tore down the houses. They left the foundations intact and just below grade. One house burned down (you can still see the ash and char in the soil) the other house was dismantled for removal to another site, but that plan was abandoned when it became obvious that the house was riddled with termites. To add insult to injury they filled the now exposed cellars with rubble. Ostensibly this was to save on the costs of hauling it offsite.

This might at first blush appear as an annoyance, but we don’t think of it that way. I mean it is initially, especially when there is a stone in a place where we KNOW there was no foundation and this particular stone is actually an 18” x 36” limestone step that was probably the side door stoop at one point. But that’s where our imagination and sense of honor kicks in. These stones were people’s homes. Lives were created, lived, loved, and lost in and above those brackets of stone rubble foundation. It is the living heritage of living and building Mezzacello where we are building it.

One day, Mezzacello will no longer be here. But the energy we created, embodied, and expended will have mattered. Those stones matter. We all of us matter. When we honor that, we are living our best life. Now pardon me while I continue to prise this big *ss stone out of the parterre garden bed. I know I can use it somewhere.

Of course it wouldn’t be a true Mezzacello story if Rick didn’t claim that every stone, pipe, clay sewer line, and random artifact is the evidence of a long buried Roman ruin. He does this just to mess with me – but secretly I play along.

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