Crumbling 106-Year-Old Longview Museum Wall to Get Fix

The Everett Building's north wall has endured more than a century of wind and rain erosion, but repairing the Gregg County Historical Museum's home isn't a simple fix.

The Texas Historical Commission recently awarded museum directors a $30,000 matching grant to repair deterioration on the north wall and replace it with new concrete and mortar.

Museum Executive Director Lindsay Loy told the Longview News-Journal that 106 years of rain and "really heavy north" winds have started eating away at the mortar and face of the brick.

Passers-by on Fredonia Street can't see the wall, but it was constructed of "substandard brick" that is not as high of a quality as the facade facing the street, "so the north end wall is deteriorating at a faster rate than the rest of the building," she said.

In some places, the north wall is separating from the rest of the building, and storm water often flows into the second floor, she said.

"There is only one layer of brick, so what you see on the outside is what you see on the inside," Loy said. "The plaster is all gone."

The Everett Building was built in 1910. It is a Recorded Texas Historic Landmark and one of five properties or districts in Gregg County listed on the National Register of Historic Places, said Gem Meacham, a member of the Gregg County Historical Commission.

Recorded Texas Historic Landmarks come with restrictions for anyone wanting to alter or relocate the structure. Meacham said state commissioners have reviewed local plans for north wall repair at the building and would not have approved grant funding if those plans violated state restrictions.

As early as next summer, contractors will reinstall brick to the entire north wall on the second floor. Any of the original bricks still in usable condition will be moved to the front of the building where they can be visible to the public, and contractors then will purchase replica bricks, she said.

To seal and stabilize the wall, contractors will use a large syringe-like object to inject mortar into the brick, then crank the building's metal tension rods back together. Finally, a faux wall will be built one-half inch from the existing wall for painting, Loy said.

The planned north wall work is not related to the ongoing facade improvements at the museum's Education Center. Loy said the museum is using a $10,000 matching grant from Longview's Main Street Program to install new fiberglass doors and panels plus wider doors, new light fixtures and exterior awning.

Other East Texas projects awarded grant money are the Old Linden Firehouse in Cass County and Mount Vernon African Methodist Episcopal Church in Anderson County.

The Texas Historical Commission awards grants for preservation projects from the Texas Preservation Trust Fund. Created by the Legislature in 1989, the trust fund is an interest-earning pool of public and private funds.

The earned interest and designated gifts are distributed as matching grants to qualified applicants for the acquisition, survey, restoration, preservation, planning and heritage education activities leading to the preservation of historical properties and archeological sites. Competitive grants are awarded on a one-to-one match basis and are paid as reimbursement of eligible expenses incurred during the project.

The Everett Building, a two-story, raised-basement structure, remains as one of the few architectural specimens in Longview associated with the cotton and oil eras in East Texas.

Granite used in the building's construction is said to be from the same Marble Falls quarry that provided for the construction of the state Capitol in Austin, according to gregghistorical.org.

Past commercial tenants of the Everett Building include drug stores, a gallery, a barber shop, the American Red Cross during World War II and several banks.

In 2012, the museum underwent several restoration and remodeling projects using a $35,000 grant from One Hundred Acres of Heritage.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
Contact Us