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Published: Wednesday, 5/14/2008

Old Monclova post office restored block by block

BY CARL RYAN
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Peggy Brown and Bill Strayer, right, make sure the furniture is in place in the old Monclova Post Office, which has been rebuilt and equipped to be historically accurate. Peggy Brown and Bill Strayer, right, make sure the furniture is in place in the old Monclova Post Office, which has been rebuilt and equipped to be historically accurate.
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The old Monclova post office is small, but it contains a lot of history.

That's not surprising, when you consider the building, which measures 14 feet by 17 feet, was in service from 1915 to 1961, when the current post office opened at the corner of Monclova and Waterville-Monclova roads.

After it closed, the old post office fell into ruinous condition. But today it stands beautifully restored on the west side of the Monclova Community Center, and will be dedicated at a ceremony at 2 p.m. May 24.

When work began almost four years ago, the building was at its original location across Monclova Road from the community center and a little to the east.

The only remaining parts of the original post office are the cement blocks which were dismantled and painstakingly reassembled. The only remaining parts of the original post office are the cement blocks which were dismantled and painstakingly reassembled.
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Volunteers with the Monclova Historical Foundation dismantled the structure cement block by cement block, cataloging each one's location so the reassembled structure would look exactly like the original. Nothing else in the building was usable, explained Bill Strayer, a former president of the foundation.

"The only thing standing was the block," Mr. Strayer said. "The floor and the roof were gone. But we were able to save enough to have it duplicated."

The fluted window trim, baseboard, and doors inside are exact replicas of the originals.

Historical accuracy was all important, said Peggy Brown, one of the 70 volunteers who worked on the project.

The period mailboxes that are inside the old Monclova post office came from the post office in Neapolis. The period mailboxes that are inside the old Monclova post office came from the post office in Neapolis.
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"There's not one piece of plywood in it," she said.

Ms. Brown said that the project cost about $35,000.

The sales counter mailboxes inside came from the Neapolis post office, and the period office equipment from the U.S. Postal Museum in Marshall, Mich., Ms. Brown said.

Mr. Strayer said a commemora-tive stamp would be made with an image of the building on it.

Claire Metzger was Monclova's first postmaster, serving from Mar. 19, 1915, to Oct. 31, 1956, according to historical foundation records.

She had the post office built on property owned by her father, John Metzger.

It was said to be unique in being the only post office in the country with a piano. Ms. Metzger was said to play songs on it for the entertainment of her customers.

The restored post office has an upright piano in it as well, although not the one owned by Ms. Metzger.



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