Russian blockhouse preservation complete

An 1841 Russian blockhouse is again sitting tall on the grounds of the University of Alaska Museum of the North.

The roof was removed from the Kolmakovsky blockhouse in 2006 due to questions of structural stability and safety. In December 2009, the Save America’s Treasures Program awarded the museum $75,000 to preserve the Kolmakovsky collection. After relocating the building to a tree-sheltered site on a new foundation and replacing a number of rotten logs, the preservation team completed the work on the blockhouse this fall by reattaching an updated roof outfitted with tundra sod and tamarack poles.

“We used materials with rot-resistant properties to help the long term preservation of the building,” said Angela Linn, the museum’s ethnology and history collection manager.

The blockhouse was the first structure built by the Russian-American Company at Kolmakovsky Redoubt near Aniak. It is one of the oldest Russian-era structures in Alaska. In 1929, the blockhouse was disassembled and moved to Fairbanks.

For this project, Linn worked closely with log preservation specialist Sandy Jamieson. He was especially intrigued with the unique notching system used in the blockhouse construction. The design features self-locking dovetail notches built into the chinkless white spruce logs, something he had never seen before.

For the full news release and photos, visit the UAF Newsroom.