During the demolition process of Eleven House’s interior, we removed two brick chimneys that were unsafe and unnecessary, now that we were going with electric heat and a pellet stove.
Taking it down
We removed bricks from the roof level and tossed them to the hillside on the edge of the property. Then we removed the inside bricks and stacked them in the room that will eventually be a kitchen. They have been there ever since. I considered using them outside in the narrow part of the property. But I also knew that if I did, that project would be in, let’s see, Phase 59 of the renovation. The bricks couldn’t stay in the house, and I had to be honest with myself – I wouldn’t use them anytime soon. Plumbing and walls had to come first.
I went to Craigslist and searched the wanted ads first. Sure enough, someone was looking for bricks. I gave him a call and told him he could have the bricks for free. I know, I know – bricks run about $1.50 each here in Vermont. But kindness and recycling are worth so much more.
A New Old Wall
Dave from Rutland, Vermont made four or five trips up to Barre to pick up bricks in his little car. He wanted the old bricks to finish rebuilding a broken down wall in his 120-year-old home. I loved thinking about those bricks “living on” in another old house. Dave took several trips up in his car, loading the back with bricks until the tires sagged with the extra weight. He gifted me with a fun “watched clock,” made from old watches and a clock mechanism. I’ll hang it in the studio kitchen and post pictures later in the process.
I still had bricks. So I posted a note on Front Page Forum, a local online community bulletin board. I received dozens of replies, but I finally connected with Teresa, a fellow Barresian. Teresa had a vision for her back yard garden – a brick patio and edging for the flower beds.
Teresa and her husband Gary met me at Eleven House on a Saturday morning, when the air was still dewy and cool. As soon as we shook hands, we felt the connection – we were meant to be friends. We chatted as we stacked bricks in their car, getting to know each other – but really reintroducing ourselves in this lifetime. Teresa brought me a jar filled with cool water and stuffed with columbine and other flowers from her garden, and we wandered Eleven House property looking at the flowers that were emerging from the deep weeds on the hill. I offered digs of the crowded lily-of-the-valley – the yard is so overgrown and neglected, but again, that is a phase that has to wait for the time being. We kept loading bricks into their car, and we took a full load over to their house in my truck. We discovered so many similarities in our lives, and talked about our kids and our own lives as children. Every brick that we moved from one house to the other helped us continue to bond as friends.
In the middle of June, I had to leave on a family emergency, so the house project was postponed. But here’s the cool thing – Teresa kept in touch with me via email and text, offering support and help whenever I needed it. I returned home about a week ago, and Teresa and Gary came back to the house to relocate the remaining bricks inside the house. For a while we thought the stack of bricks was actually growing! But we finally got to the bottom. We said goodbye with hugs and promises to call before summer was out.
Here is part of the patio work Teresa has done with the old Eleven House bricks. Don’t they look happy? They have a new life!
Giving is receiving, folks. Sometimes your wealth appears in handmade clocks and jars of blue columbines, in hugs and laughter, in genuine friendship. They are worth their weight in so many ways. Eleven House is a house of giving.
“If I could only remember that the days were not bricks to be laid row on row, to be built into a solid house, where one might dwell in safety and peace, but only food for the fires of the heart.” Edmund Wilson
I want to hear your stories of sharing during your remodeling! Have you offered something from a project, and found you received something of greater value? Have you found friendships or made business connections through your renovations? Tell us about it in the comment section below!