She downsized to a home on the Saluda River and found buried treasure
Laura Mazzola strides through her expansive yard, two large dogs following. Her sequined boots glint in the sun as she makes her way to a large ravine meandering through her six-acre property just outside of Greenville.
Suddenly it comes into view—a ribbon of glass and metal deep within the ravine, sparkling like the Saluda River rushing just a stone’s throw away.
Mazzola picks up her pace, excited about what she might find today. It’s become her latest meditation ritual: walking through her property, listening to the birds, and finding bowls, cups, toy cars, fishing lures—even a message in a bottle—telling a fascinating story of the past.
Like many new beginnings, it started with an empty nest. After decades of living in the Stone Lake community in Greenville, raising two kids and juggling busy careers, Laura and Jeff Mazzola started looking for a smaller space. On their first visit to this 1959 home, less than half the size of their previous residence, Laura was charmed; Jeff, not so much.
“It reminded me of my grandmother’s house,” Mazzola says. It wasn’t updated, and most everything was brown. A walk onto the sprawling back deck and a look at the wooded lot made it a tempting purchase, but a stroll down a stone staircase to a stunning stretch of Saluda River shoreline clinched it.
Saluda River Treasures
Mazzola was thrilled about the move but had no idea there were more treasures to be discovered. One day, strolling the property, a homemade birdcage caught her eye. “I look over, and all I see is glass.”
She started heading out before girls’ nights or parties, grabbing a pretty bottle or jar, washing it, and adding a flower as a quick gift. Friends loved the beautiful old pieces, each with a story.
Then she began digging in earnest.
Now, her home is dotted with favorites, and the collection reaches critical mass outside, where a large shelf is bursting with special items, from commemorative plastic cups from Hardee’s to elegant crystal and amazingly unchipped teacups. She loves to gift meaningful pieces and invites friends and visitors to take what they want; a daily Instagram post often stirs up interest and memories.
Then she started creating art out of her finds, showcasing vintage metal refashioned into crosses and hearts and turning beautiful old wallpaper into framed decor. “I call myself an art-cheologist,” she jokes. She’s sold many pieces, including popular coasters featuring old beer can logos.
As the home, deck, shelves, and other areas fill to the brim with fabulous finds, she’s researched many of the items, most from the 1950s–70s, and has tried to dig up how the “glass graveyard,” as she affectionately named it, came to be. She suspects a mere lack of garbage pickup through the decades is the answer.
But one family’s trash has become her treasure, and her favorite way to relax and while away the hours.
“This is mental health for me,” she says. “I can be here five minutes and find something, or on the weekends, I might be out here for three hours. I dig, I get lost in thought, I’m by the river, and nothing else matters at that moment.”
“It’s truly a gift that I never, ever expected,” she adds. “I love this house, but all this was a bonus.”
See her daily discovery on Instagram @saludariverfinds.
Get to Know Laura Mazzola
Occupation: After decades in marketing and entrepreneurship, she retired—for three days. Now, in addition to overseeing Saluda River Finds, Laura works part-time in marketing with Table 301 and spends Thursdays relishing the zen of chopping vegetables at Good to Go on Augusta Road.
Family: Husband Jeff; kids Annie Hope (25) and Fletcher (24); dogs Beacon and Rivers, the latter a new addition that wandered into the family a few months ago.
Chief Joy Officer: Always innately joyful, Mazzola has been practicing the discipline of joy. She surrounds herself with people who build her up, focuses on building up others, and has positivity partners she calls on when needed.
A Few Favorite Finds
Toy cars: The Mazzolas don’t have grandkids yet, but she is prepared with a collection of metal toy cars pulled from the property.
California ashtray: Daughter Annie Hope lives in California, so this ashtray celebrating the state went into her room immediately.
Happy Face: A 1950s cold cream that “still smells like grandma,” she says, after being buried for 50 years. The name also speaks to her message of choosing joy.
Fletcher bottle: After digging up a pretty bottle, she noticed it featured the word Fletcher, her son’s name. “There’s meaning in practically everything,” she says.
Message in a bottle: She almost filled this bottle with water before realizing it contained a message from the early 1970s, apparently a romantic note to a lucky man named Chuck.