- Associated Press - Monday, March 24, 2014

EAST COLUMBIA, Texas (AP) - Wes Metzler has a deep appreciation for old, historical buildings, so when the opportunity came up to restore a piece of the area’s history from the mid-19th century, he jumped at the chance.

“I didn’t want to see it destroyed, it’s too much of a landmark for East Columbia,” Metzler told The Facts (https://bit.ly/1j8NgiF) of Clute.

Located on Front Street, the 25-foot-wide, 50-foot-long wooden rectangle building that faces the Brazos River, sits in a small, four-house neighborhood established in 1846. Originally a post office, the building has been used for purposes other than what was intended for it, including at various times a bar and grocery store.

The building has been gutted and currently has no walls, with the trussed, metal roof held up by construction equipment to allow workers to repair the foundation.

The structure will be raised more than 12 feet, and moved back 6 feet to its original location after years of shifting toward the road when the foundation rotted, Metzler said.

Once the foundation work is finished, the restoration process can begin, he said. Metzler will put the siding back on, insulate the inside, reinstall the flooring and walls, install the windows and rebuild the front porch.

He is researching the history of the post office, and would like the old building to look as close as possible to the way it did originally. Metzler, a Houston resident, owns a home in East Columbia that he built and uses as a get-away house.

Like his house in East Columbia, he is restoring the old post office using salvaged materials that he has taken from buildings around that time period.

The original front doors will be put in, the walkway will be built with handmade slave brick that came from the Hawkins plantation in Sargent, and an iron fence from that time period Metzler purchased in Houston will be put in front, he said. The metal used for the roof is rusted, but in good condition and can be reused.

A water cistern is located inside the post office, a 10 feet by 10 feet wide area that could be used for a wine cellar or a bedroom, he said.

Michael Leebron, “Mr. East Columbia,” was about to begin restoration of the building before he died of a heart attack in July of last year, and Metzler took over the project to honor his memory, Metzler said.

“Since he died, I didn’t want to see his dream end, so I wanted to carry it on,” he said. “Michael was kind of the heart and soul of East Columbia.”

Metzler bought the post office in November.

The project will take about a year to complete, he said.

“I could build it sooner, but I would like to take my time on it,” Metzler said.

Although Metzler is in the process of restoring the historic building, he doesn’t have solid plans on what it will become, he said. It could become an office space with an apartment in back, an antique shop, coffee shop, cafe, meeting hall or museum. Since no public services are located in East Columbia, options are limited for the building’s ultimate use, he said.

“I’m going to try different ideas to see what I really want to do with it,” Metzler said. “I’ve got a good feeling about that building. With its history, I think it’ll be something that’ll be of interest and value.”

Alton Anderson, who has lived next door to the old post office building for 40 years, is interested to see the restoration is complete. He said he is glad to see someone doing something with it rather than tearing it down, he said.

“It’s just an old piece of history,” Anderson said.


Information from: The Facts, https://www.thefacts.com

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times is switching its third-party commenting system from Disqus to Spot.IM. You will need to either create an account with Spot.im or if you wish to use your Disqus account look under the Conversation for the link "Have a Disqus Account?". Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide