Some of Alaska’s oldest historical buildings can move forward with preservation efforts after being named the top ten most endangered historic properties by the Alaska Association for Historic Preservation.
According to AAHP, each year buildings are nominated for the list, and if selected, become eligible to apply for seed money grants to help preserve the sites. The program also helps raise awareness of the threats against sites that represent significant moments in the state’s history.
Nominations for the 2014 Ten Most Endangered Historic Properties list have already been submitted and are being reviewed by AAHP. AAHP has been working to identify and protect endangered historical sites since 1991, according to their website.
Kake Cannery- Kake
Also listed on the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s 2013 list of America’s 11 most endangered historical sites, the southeast Alaska cannery was built and added on to between 1912 and 1940, when the canning industry was developing in Alaska. Weather conditions have caused damage to the structure and some outlying buildings in the complex have deteriorated.
Yates Memorial Hospital- Ketchikan
Originally built in 1905 by the Episcopalian church, the Yates Memorial Hospital has been used as a hospital, a clergy house, a magazine company, a seat for the local Chamber of Commerce, a curio shop, and a place for visiting sailors to stay and eat. More than once it has faced impending demolition during long periods of neglect and disuse.
Historic Bering Hill Chapel- Adak
The United States Army Corp of Engineers built the chapel in 1944, but began using a newer, bigger chapel built by the Navy in the 1980’s, leaving it empty for several years. During the 1990’s several efforts were made to repair and begin using the chapel again, but the base closure in 1996 took away a large portion of the local population, leaving it once more abandoned and empty. Extensive damage to the roof and one of the walls spurred the community to begin fundraising efforts to preserve the site in 2012.
Ascension of Our Lord Chapel- Karluk
Some believe another Russian Orthodox church was built in the 1700’s, but the Ascension of Our Lord Chapel has served the community since 1888, and is a beautiful example of contemporary architecture for the Russian Orthodox Church. According to architectural historian Alison Hoagland, it is the oldest extension of the Russian Orthodox Church in Alaska, as written in her book, Buildings of Alaska.
Ladd Field National Historic Landmark- Fairbanks
A major player in World War II military movements in Alaska, Ladd Field was originally built to be a Cold Weather Test Station in 1940. Staffing numbers increased dramatically following the attack by the Japanese on Pearl Harbor in 1941, and it continued to be a key location for pilots defending Alaska’s coast and transferring planes to then-ally Russia, who was fighting Germany on the Russian Front. Several buildings and areas of the site have been demolished or deteriorated to the point of public safety hazards.
Pioneers of Alaska Igloo No. 19- Cordova
Chartered in 1920, Cordova Igloo #19 has served as a community building, host to numerous weddings, public meetings, school events, and more. It is one of 19 such igloos throughout the state created by the Pioneers of Alaska Fraternal Organization. Preservation efforts began in 2010, and have continued as funds for the project come in from the small community and elsewhere.
Saint Michael’s Cathedral- Sitka
The original cathedral was completed in 1848, making it the earliest Russian Orthodox church in North America, but a fire destroyed the original building in 1966. It was rebuilt, and later came under the control of the Diocese of Alaska. It is a major tourist attraction, located in downtown Sitka on Baranof Island.
Berg-Brown Cabin- Anchorage
Known as one of the oldest buildings in Anchorage, the Berg-Brown cabin was listed too late to ensure its preservation. With little notice, the cabin was demolished in October 2013, despite relocation efforts following the sale of the property by the Downtown Soup Kitchen.
Fourth Avenue Theatre- Anchorage
An iconic downtown site, the 4th Avenue Theatre was completed in 1947, and known also as the Lathrop Building was home to a first-run theatre until 1980, radio and television stations, a restaurant, and even a penthouse apartment briefly. In recent years, community efforts have failed in purchasing the property for preservation, and has sat empty since a private developer bought the property in 2009.
Also listed are historic canneries statewide.