Former Williams post office moved to couple's property

WILLIAMS — Monday morning, with the sun trying to make an appearance, a group of onlookers stood watch as preparations were made for a chapter in local history to be closed.

At the core of the group was Williams Fire Chief Mike Kuntz. Kuntz, who provided a little background on the building, an old post office, as it was being jacked up and loaded onto a trailer.

Two years ago, the fire district purchased the land on which the post office stands.

"It was the second of three," said Kuntz.

The first post office was inside the Williams General Store, and the one moved Monday was the second. The current one is located at 20160 Williams Highway.

The neighboring Williams Fire District has plans to expand its parking and needed the space. Behind the post office also sat an outhouse, as the building moved on Monday had no plumbing.

"We needed the space, but didn't want to just tear it down, because it's a piece of history," said Kuntz.

"The first thing we did was contact the Josephine County Historical Society and the Josephine County Planning Department. We wanted to make sure it wasn't a registered historical building."

It turns out it wasn't, so Kuntz started to spread the word that it's available. One of the fire district's board members knew Claudia and Harold Pratt and of their passion for antiques.

The Pratts have been antiques dealers in Southern Oregon for decades. Claudia was a registered nurse in her former life, and Harold worked at a local sawmill.

During her spare time, Claudia would hit yard sales, often buying antique furniture. "I would refinish it and give it to my children. Finally they told me to stop — they couldn't use any more, so I started selling."

Claudia and Harold have the perfect property for the historic post office and live only a little more than a mile from where it originally stood.

The couple built their home, shop and several outbuildings to house their antique collection. They occasionally have antique shows and host one or two sales events each year.

This was the first antique Claudia has ever found that she couldn't send Harold to pick up.

"I got three bids for moving it, and think it's great that we have an antique truck pulling an antique building," said Pratt.

Paul Weller, a building mover from Cave Junction, won the bid. He was driving a vintage 1956 Diamond T truck, apparently one of several he owns.

Diamond T was a motor car company founded in Chicago in 1905 that made passenger cars for a few years until finding its niche in the truck market and lasting well into the '60s.

For the free historic building, Claudia and Harold had only to pay the cost of moving the structure, the price of the necessary permits for moving it, and they made a charitable contribution to Williams Fire and Rescue. The actual price ended up being around $3,700.

The outhouse had already been disassembled by the Pratts and moved to their property. "It's really cute," said Pratt. "And there was a small add-on to the building which we didn't keep."

In its last life, the little building had been covered with asphalt shingles. Claudia has plans for removing them and restoring the wood below.

The building was built around 1948 by Robert Kincaid with rough-cut lumber milled at Browns Lumber Company, at the end of Cedar Flat Road. It operated until the late 1970s.

Claudia reported later in the day, "It was just as amazing setting it down on our property as it was jacking it up earlier."

Chief Kuntz summed it up by saying, "It's great that Claudia and Harold volunteered to move it and are going to preserve it and keep this important part of Williams' history."

— Reach reporter Lisa Whiting at 541-474-3718 or

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