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Save it? Too late

The oldest structure in Pilot Point, the Eddleman house on Morrison Street, is being disassembled, and a last-ditch effort to save it appears unlikely.

Dr. R.W. Eddleman, one of Pilot Point’s first settlers, built the oldest part of the house from hand-hewn logs in 1853. Eddleman lived in the house until his death in 1904.

City officials made an attempt a few years ago to save the structure, but negotiations with the Eddleman family fell through in 2012. City Council member Paul Young brought up the issue at a council meeting last month, but the options appear limited.

The cabin’s old hardwood logs are valuable, and the family has a deal with a McKinney contractor to take down the structure in exchange for the reclaimed materials. He plans to sell the wood to furniture makers.

City Manager John Dean, Young and local history buffs Howard Kimble and Bob Albrecht visited the house last week to inspect its condition and assess the feasibility of salvaging it.

“It could be moved at a tremendous amount of expense,” said Rowland Funk, whose wife Maggie is part owner of the house along with 10 other descendants of the Eddleman family. “The cabin itself has lost its original integrity.”

Eddleman traveled to Pilot Point in 1852 from Missouri with his wife, mother and several other family members. He purchased a plot of land on what is today’s Morrison Street and by 1853 he had built a one-room log cabin on it. He added a second room soon after, replacing a dirt cellar that doubled as shelter from the harsh, untamed surroundings.

Eddleman — who also opened one of Pilot Point’s first businesses, the Star Drug Store — began adding onto to the family’s small home in the 1880s; by the 1900s, he had built a second story and encased the whole structure in wooden siding. Downstairs, the original structure was visible only by its thick walls.

The walls of the original log cabin are still visible today. Holes have been cut through the logs for new doorways and windows, so it couldn’t stand on its own if it were to be removed.

Dean said the cabin portion of the house isn’t sound and couldn’t be restored to its original condition.

“I don’t think it’s feasible to pick it up and move it, which is what the plan was several years ago,” Dean said. “It would be a costly and labor-intensive project for the city to undertake.”

Funk said the will to save it just has never been there.

“Had there been a real desire, to keep it by more than just a couple members of the family, the city would have found a way to do it if they really wanted it. But they drug their feet on it,” Funk said.

“Now you show this great interest in it after you guys have slapped code violations on it, and we decided we’ve got to get it down and sell the whole property. For whoever’s going to buy this property, [the house] is a liability, not an asset.”

Maggie lived in the house until 2004, which was the last time it was occupied. She is the great-grandniece of R.W. Eddleman, the grandson of Dr. Eddleman.

After Maggie moved out, the house became an attraction for photographers looking for a picturesque location for engagement photo shoots and portraits. The house continued to sit, unoccupied and unmaintained, until some high school students climbing on the balcony caused part of it to collapse. That’s when the house was targeted by code enforcement as a hazard.

City staff has discussed the possibility of acquiring a portion of the cabin wall to be placed inside the city museum, but nothing has been officially proposed and nothing has been placed on the agenda for a council vote. By the next meeting, it may be too late.

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