A Cold Winter’s Day At Mezzacello
It is a cold winter’s day at Mezzacello. -12C (10F) outside, (here’s a handy C to F converter) but it’s a balmy 18C (65F) inside. It’s rather hard to keep a 165+ year old house warm for the tropical plants, but we do manage. I rather like this snap of our living room today.
Because most of our focus is on the farm and the garden infrastructures, we spend little time on the house. It’s livable (and we love it) but it does need some love soon. The original fireplaces still work well and make for cozy rooms on demand.
Twenty-First Century Amenities
Gratitude is a very important part of our lives here at Mezzacello. We do have some 21st Century amenities like water (hot and cold) plumbing, electric, windows, wifi, furnaces, and lots of tech, other aspects are decidedly 19th Century; The lack of AC or a downstairs furnace, the gas fireplaces, the solid brick walls, and the basement cellar designed for munchkins.
Rather than complain or pine for more, I think there is more value in responsible planning and saving to bring this old house safely, sustainably, and graciously into the 21st Century. She has seen so much. She has been patient and steadfast and so will we.
Clinton-Era HVAC and Electric
You read that right. The Furnaces and the electrical systems were installed in 1998. The kitchen is 1989 as re the windows. She is not glamorous, but surprisingly, she is still highly functional.
The downstairs furnace died four years ago. To update it we must also update the electrical systems to code and repair the foundation walls. That is a BIG and expensive commitment and we don’t take that lightly.
The house (thankfully) still has all of her original chimneys, and her gas lines are plumbed to functional fireplaces. There is a fireplace in every room and all the original rooms were designed with 19th Century sensibility; the rooms can be isolated. The only exception is the Depression era extension in the back which is also the structurally weakest and coldest part of the house.
It’s not as abad as it sounds. The upstairs (where the bedrooms are) has its own furnace, so we are grateful for that. But the electrical system was designed for the last century. It’s a gremlin to make modern electronics work well in this house, and her bricks are like Kryptonite to a wifi signal.
Charm Before Harm
We have always known this was going to be a long-term multi-phase process to bring the house back with grace and dignity. Instead of being frustrated that the work is not done, we have decided to be happy and grateful that even though this house has sat abandoned TWICE for years at a time, she still has all of her original charm.
I believe that if we came into this endeavor focused on building a show house and transforming it just to be modern and comfortable, we would have missed out on a HUGE lesson. And that is that living with a wounded house and caring for it, building on to it’s legacy and making due together actually does build character. It builds charm and sustainability – and clever solutions.
So this summer we shall endeavor to make it the summer of interior and infrastructure renovations. After 7 years of building a mission and purpose, we also need to bring our brick friend along as well. So here’s to our house!
She hugs us the best that she can, and we love her well in return. She is one of the many heroes in the story of Mezzacello and she is our home. It’s easy to love her even when it’s bitter cold outside and chilly inside, it’s good to remember, this house has weathered worse!