The Commerce Journal

May 12, 2012

Extensive renovation project a labor of love

By Caleb Slinkard
The Commerce Journal

COMMERCE — In today’s age of instant gratification, it is not often that an individual spends three years on a single project to make sure it is done correctly. But that’s exactly what Jeff Krzypkowski did as completed his master’s degree in school psychology at Texas A&M University-Commerce.

Then again, Krzypkowski isn’t your average guy, either. A native of Key West, Florida, Krzypkowski started his own vineyard in West Texas after taking classes about the business in Dennison and ran it for four years. After selling the vineyard, he moved to Commerce for the university’s graduate program and began working at Landon Winery in Greenville, a company that receives some of its grapes from Krzypkowski’s old vineyard.

The house, a 107-year-old two-story building at 1308 Greenville St., was in pretty bad shape when he purchased it.

“There were squatters living here, and the floor was covered in clothing three feet thick,” he said. “Apparently, they were stealing clothes from outside of Goodwill and the Salvation Army and re-selling them at garage sales. It was bad.”

The structure itself needed a lot of work. Krzypkowski repaired the foundation and let the house sit for eight months before beginning renovation on everything from the floor to the roof to the plumbing. Each semester, he would complete his necessary course work and finish one of his projects for the house.

“I just paced myself,” he said. “Every semester, I would get project done and I would finish three classes. They paralleled each other.”

Krzypkowski replaced the plumbing as far as the street, re-wired the house, replaced some of the dry wall, renovated the deck and put in new cabinets, windows and a wood-burning stove. It was a three year affair that, to Krzypkowski, was a great way of persevering small town Texas history.

“It’s an old piece of Commerce, and that’s what sparked my interest,” he said. “Historically, it shouldn’t go away. Commerce is one of those really neat old towns. It’s old school small town Texas, and there aren’t that many places like that anymore.”

Now that he has his degree, Krzypkowski plans on moving back to Florida to complete an internship. But his interest in renovation hasn’t waned.

“I‘d grab another one tomorrow if I could,” he said. “I gutted the electric, gutted all the walls, ripped out all the plumbing from the house to the street. For the next 40 years, this house is in good shape.”