FEBT Restoration – Rockhill Iron and Coal Company Post Office

The Rockhill Iron and Coal Company Post Office is a structure constructed in the 1915. The lower floor of this building served as Robertsdale’s post office during the era of EBT and RI&C operations. At various times, parts of the lower and upper floors provided space for barber and shoe shops, company offices, apartments and community meeting rooms. During at least one miners’ strike, upstairs rooms were used as a company police “lock-up.”

In 1987 FEBT learned that the Post Office and the adjacent Robertsdale station were available for sale or lease as part of another property transfer between the owners of the EBT and a third party. With funds donated by an anonymous benefactor, FEBT purchased the Old Post Office and negotiated a 50-year lease on the EBT Depot (FEBT later purchased the depot outright).

Substantial rehabilitation of the Post Office was undertaken beginning in 1996, using funds donated by FEBT members and grants and loans awarded to FEBT by the Southwestern Pennsylvania Heritage Preservation Commission and the Potomac Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society. Extensive repairs were made to the roof, gutters and drainpipes, chimney, second floor, first floor, crawl-space, balcony, stairs, exterior and interior walls, and doors and windows. Significant drainage improvements were made both within the building and to the site to prevent surface and underground water from entering the structure. An electrical service connection, rough plumbing, insulation, and independent heating and air conditioning systems for each floor were also installed. All work conforms to the Secretary of the Interior’s standards for rehabilitation of historic buildings, and all work was reviewed and approved in advance by the Pennsylvania Bureau for Historic Preservation. Since then FEBT member-volunteers have continued work on exterior repairs and repainting. Some additional contracted work — including the installation of an interior ventilation duct and finishing and painting the new wood first floor — was completed in late 1998 and early 1999. In September, 2004, Hurricane Ivan rolled through the EBT area and the Old Post Office was not completely spared. Rising waters entered the crawl space under the building and seeped through the first floor causing warped and buckled floorboards. This damage was repaired so further restoration work could continue.

Restoration proceeded with the installation of water, sewer, HVAC and electrical systems. Bathrooms were installed and plaster and ceiling installation were completed. The floors were sanded and final coats applied. As of 2020 the building is close to completion.