The house at Mezzacello is 151 years old this year. The house that exists today has been constructed in five sections over that period of time. The original 1868 farmhouse, the 1890 J. Lloyd addition, the 1910 Rufus Main addition, the 1930 anonymous addition atop the 1890 addition, and the 1950 Green Family addition atop the 1910 Lloyd addition that initiated the apartment subdivision phase of the house. Lots of growth and expansion. But the story of this house is also one of abandonment and neglect.

We can track through census and tax records at least once (probably twice) that this house lay Abandonned and probably exposed to the elements. We know the heavy toll this neglect has taken on the walls and especially the foundation of this house. We believe one of those periods of abandonment was 1975-1981. During that time rainwater’s destabilized the northwest 1910 foundation, causing it to sink a full 9cm below grade. Additionally the 1868 house was exposed at the roof and rainwater and the removal of a gravity fed furnace from the cellar left the cellar walls with massive 90cm holes in the rubble foundation walls of the cellar. Rainwater, gravity and neglect caused the wood supports beneath the house to rot and the floor boards warped in all parts of the structure at different rates.

The end result is that the floor in the original farmhouse undulates and the walls have shifted noticeably to the south in their center span. The southern wall of the 1868 house buckles out about 4cm and the northern walls buckle in as the middle of the floor sank. The 1910 and 1930 addition tie ins have pulled on the west facade of the house. And the northwest foundation has pulled the 1930 and 1950 additions in yet another direction. And yet structurally she persists.

A late 1980 preservation choice to retouch all the courses of brick with a concrete matrix to strengthen the brick significantly slowed the rate of shift in the house. As a result, the house was stabilized. The good news is the house is not moving any further. The bad news is the house cannot be realigned. The concrete has forever cast her warp as a feature.

it is our goal to continue to rehabilitate this lovely house and insure that she continues to provide joy, shelter, and comfort well into her second (and third)  Century. To do this we need to make some hard decisions; Do we continue to rehabilitate the structure in all five of its not the same quality or even well-aligned additions or do we strip her back to her 1868 glory and rebuild, reinforce, and realign her elegant symmetry? This is the crossroads of the story of this house. What do you think? Keep the irregular footprint of the four additions – warts and all, or start anew with a new structure that truly meets the needs, code, and spirit of that original farmhouse on the outskirts of Ohio’s brand new capital city all those years ago?

 

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