A River Ran Through It; Alum Creek, Kerr Mill, and a Farmhouse
Like all old houses, Mezzacello has a story. The story of Mezzacello begins its life as a residential home built next to a creek tributary of Alum Creek in 1868. Back then a river ran through It; Alum Creek, Kerr Mill, and a Farmhouse.
View the Sanborn Fire Maps for Columbus and Franklin County via the Library of Congress.
Prior to this date the land was owned by the Kerr and the Parsons families. When the first section of the house was built, it was a semi-rural house just outside Columbus proper along the old national highway, Route 40 (now Broad Street). It was a hybrid Italianate farmhouse-townhouse built next to a stream outside the city.
Borrowed Farmland and the Mill
Mezzacello would have originally been a farmhouse as food was less accessible than it is today. Any grains grown or purchased could be milled at the mill across the creek at was mostly likely was ground at the Kerr family millhouse just off Broad Street. Out buildings, outhouses, stables, and servants quarters were most likely arrayed around the house as was a summer kitchen.
The Emerging Role of the Railroad After the Civil War
The original owner was a Baltimore lawyer who was having the house built for his young cousin bride to live in. His plan (apparently) was to travel between Baltimore and Camp Chase during the year along the Baltimore-Ohio railway. We don’t know why the owner traveled so often to camp chase.
We can make some assumptions about his being a lawyer and prisoners of the Confederate state, but there are no records – yet. Columbus was becoming a central rail hub between the east coast and Chicago and Cleveland.
Always Something New
With every passing year we discover something new about this house. Finding out about the creek in what is now Avon Alley was quite a surprise. We are happy that we could return a large part of the 19th Century farm that became Mezzacello back into a farm in the 21st Century.