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Preservation Alaska is celebrating National Historic Preservation Month during May with the theme of: “Historic Preservation Starts at Home: People Saving Places.”

Events will take place across the state with a combination of virtual and in-person activities aimed at getting people out during the month. This means walking around to find historic buildings, having meals at an historic building, shopping at a retail store located in an historic building, and more.

The month-long celebration kicks off with the announcement of the 2022 Ten Most Endangered Historic Properties list on Sunday, May 1 at 1 p.m. on Facebook. This is the 31st year for the annual announcement. The purpose is to draw attention to historic properties that Alaska is in danger of losing forever.

In Anchorage, there will be a Photo Puzzler Treasure Hunt where distinctive portions of historic buildings are on the puzzler page. Those playing are required to search for buildings based on the distinctive picture and write the address on the card. All buildings are within a four-block area of downtown.

Virtual presentations will include video of the moving of the historic Ascension Church of Our Lord at Karluk and the documentary produced for the Mug Up Exhibit now open at the Alaska State Museum. Of special interest is the “Conversation with Eric Hollenbeck on the importance of historic preservation.” Hollenbeck is the star of the new program “The Craftsman” on the Magnolia network or Discovery+.

The group recently worked to secure funding for a documentary of the “graffiti” left by miners inside tunnels in the Independence Mine area in Hatcher Pass.

“I was so surprised to see a former schoolmate on TV,” said Trish Neal, Preservation Alaska’s president. Neal contacted Hollenbeck and invited him to share his philosophy on historic preservation. “He has a very unique business that provides solutions to restoring bits and pieces of historic items from a cedar chest to the cupola on top of an historical building,” said Neal.

Hollenbeck owns Blue Ox Mill Works and Historic Village in Eureka, California. He has been in business for over almost 50 years. The half hour program documents his work on restoration of historic buildings in Eureka and beyond, including Alaska.

Last year, Preservation Alaska distributed bright orange “#SavingPlaces” for window display to Anchorage businesses which are located in historic buildings in their windows during May. This year the signs will be available online for building owners as well as those who wish to promote the month-long event. These are also the signs for the Historical Selfie Scavenger Hunt.

The Historical Selfie Scavenger Hunt returns this year. It is open to anyone around the state. Participants take a selfie in front of their favorite historical property and post it to Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter with distinct hash tags. It is a fun way to promote historic preservation.

The University of Alaska-Fairbanks Film Archive partnered with Preservation Alaska last year to post links to a variety of historic footage of communities around the state that is available on YouTube. The partnership will again have daily links posted on the group’s website and Facebook page.

More events are in the works which will be announced throughout May The group welcomes community events to post on their website to share around the state.

As a statewide organization, Preservation Alaska also acts as an umbrella organization sponsoring a variety of history, rehabilitation, museum, archaeological, and preservation projects and entities acting as a non-profit for granting, administration and fundraising. Friends of Nike Site Summit (FONSS) is the primary organization that Preservation Alaska works with. It also worked with the Naknek Cannery History Project, Revitalize Sitka, and Friends of the Kennecott Ore Chute. The group recently worked with Adam Christiansen to secure funding for a documentary of the “graffiti” left by miners inside tunnels in the Independence Mine area in Hatcher Pass.

It is currently working with an ad hoc committee to save the Ascension of Our Lord Chapel in Karluk and supported helping to save the Jesse Lee Home for Children during 2020 that was demolished.  It has managed the Oscar Anderson House for the past 10 years.

Information on the month-long celebration can be found here.

May highlights urgency to save Alaska’s historic places

Joel Davidson
Joel is Editor-in-Chief of the Alaska Watchman. Joel is an award winning journalist and has been reporting for over 24 years, He is a proud father of 8 children, and lives in Palmer, Alaska.