The Grand Forks County Historical Society is seeking donations to help defray the costs of repairing a 153-year-old log post office on the Myra Museum grounds in Grand Forks.
Several logs on the post office, which was built in 1868 and began operating in 1870, need repairs, and the work must be completed by a contractor who specializes in restoration of historic buildings, said Leah Byzewski, Grand Forks Historical Society director.
The cost of the first phase of the repairs, which will begin this fall, are expected to total about $50,000.
“The contractor is from Artistic Restorations, Mankato, Minn.,” she said. “We’re comfortable with their knowledge. They have experience. We’re not just going to trust the repair of this structure to anyone.”
As of the afternoon of Thursday, June 10, the historical society had raised $275 toward its goal of $30,000 on a GoFundMe account it set up this week, Byzewski said. The GFCHS has received slightly more than $40,000 in funding from member donations, the Myra Foundation and Preservation North Dakota.
Builders cut down oak and elm trees along the Red River to use for construction of the post office, which is the oldest building in Grand Forks and among the five oldest in North Dakota.
Sanford Cady, the first postmaster in Grand Forks, distributed mail from a box in the post office because in those days there were no mail stations in post offices. The log post office has a 111-year-old mail station in it now, which the Grand Forks Historical Society acquired in the 1970s from a post office in Pinewood, Minn.
The 18-feet-by-20-feet post office was moved from its original location on Reeves Drive to the corner of Cottonwood Street and Second Avenue South in the early 1900s, where it was used as a residence for the next 75 years. In the mid-1970s the post office was relocated to the Myra Museum grounds, Byzewski said.
In the late 1990s, before the flood wall in Grand Forks was built, the log post office was moved north about 100 feet and placed on a concrete foundation. The foundation allows air to circulate underneath, which has improved the building’s ventilation, she said.
At that time, the lower logs were in need of repair and were replaced. Since then, those logs again have deteriorated from water and insect damage, and a bulge has developed. The bulge does not appear to be caused by structural damage, but the Grand Forks County Historical Society wants to repair it before it becomes a safety issue. The building also will need to be “rechinked,” which involves packing the spaces between the logs.
After the first phase of the repairs are completed, bids will be taken for the second phase which will include roof and window repair, Byzewski said.
Grand Forks County Historical Society members believe it is important to continue the building’s repair and maintenance not only for historical reasons, but also because many community members have enjoyed seeing the post office over the past 56 years that it has been on the Myra Museum grounds.
“People have a sentimental feeling for it,” Byzewski said.
For example, school children who tour the buildings on the grounds often comment in thank-you notes to the Grand Forks County Historical Society that the post office was their favorite, she said. Meanwhile, the building has been a backdrop for hundreds of wedding, graduation and family photos.
Donations to help with the post office’s repair costs can be made at: https://www.gofundme.com/f/spead-save-our-post-office?utm_medium=referral&utm_source=unknown&utm_campaign=comms_pgf5+spead-save-our-post-office
Grand Forks County Historical Society website: www.grandforkshistory.com.