Retirement is a distant memory for Tom Stansel. That isn’t because he hasn’t been working for many years, but because of the job he has taken on, it doesn’t seem like he is retired.
From the beginning, when Dr. David Karpeles, heard about a former Methodist Church, built in 1925, that was empty, and began to look at the location to add to the list of his Manuscript Museums, Stansel was a part of the process of making it happen.
Dr. Karpeles sent one of his directors to Alvin to look over the potential home for a new museum that would house rare and treasured documents of all kinds. The representative saw the potential, knowing what Karpeles was looking for in a location, and approved the acquisition.
The museum would need a lot of work before it could open its doors, and Stansel, already a historical buff, because of his work with the Alvin Historical Society, was onboard.
However, the old church had been leased out a few times, and the building was filled with items that needed to be removed. “It took 17 large roll offs to get it all out,” said Stansel.
Although he was offered the position as director, Stansel declined, but assured Karpeles that he would be an active volunteer.
Thanks to donations and services from Robert Vasquez, who owns Express Roofing and Home Services and McCoys, the cost of remodeling was reduced, yet still costly.
Much of the overall work the building needed was done thanks to the either low cost, or donated work.
The challenge of renovating the building officially began in 2010, when Karpeles bought it. In 2020, that treasured Certificate of Occupancy was granted by the city and a long list of needs began to happen.
Inspectors from the City of Alvin gave their stamp of approval to open the museum, but Stansel saw that more work needed to be done and decided to take on one huge task.
He had been offered the job of Director, but said he would rather continue his commitment to the Alvin Historical Museum and volunteer to help at the Karpeles Manuscript Museum.
He did agree to being named the Associate Director and in January of this year, agreed to take on that role, while a full time director was hired.
He had taken on that daunting task for 10 months, as the Museum began to take shape.
But, when the director was hired, Stansel found that there was a serious need to work on the almost 100-year old windows, some in very bad condition.
“It’s part of the restoration and repair of the building. What was done before was not the best quality and much of it needed to be redone,” he said.
Stansel learned quickly that his major issue with repairing the windows was finding stained glass to put into places where some were broken. He says he learned a lot about stained glass as he began to search for as close to a perfect match as he could get.
There are not only many colors, but also hundreds of tints of each color, as well as many texture and designs, making it almost impossible to find an exact match.
“Some work had been done, and I was able to find some glass that was not used from the 60s,” he said.
He was also able to find some from the 80s and 90s in the basement of what had been a church years ago. It will be months before Stansel’s work is completed, but visitors now have one more interesting thing to view when they visit the fascinating Karpeles Museum.