Historic Preservation Program
The City and Borough of Juneau’s Comprehensive Plan, adopted by the CBJ Assembly in 1997, is the official long-range plan for the growth and development of the community. Policy 4.18 of the plan states, “It is the policy of the CBJ to identify and protect historic and archaeological resources; to educate, encourage, and assist the general public in recognizing the value of historic preservation; and to promote heritage tourism which accurately represents Juneau’s unique Native Alaskan, Russian, Early American, and other cultures.”
The Comprehensive Plan identifies a number of implementing actions which support the various policies of the plan. Implementing action 4.18.11 of the plan states, “Revise and expand the Juneau Historic Preservation Strategy to become a historic preservation plan that sets forth goals and objectives for organizing preservation activities and integrating preservation into the broader community and land use planning efforts outlining tasks, area specific surveys, and grant funding sources.”
It is with this mandate that the Community Development Department embarked on the development of the Juneau Historic Preservation Plan. The development of the plan was made possible through a Federal historic preservation fund matching grant administered by the Alaska Office of History and Archaeology. The process of developing the plan has been on-going over a period of about two and one half years. It began with a public scoping meeting to identify the issues and concerns regarding the preservation of historic resources in the community. CBJ Staff and volunteers with expertise in archaeology and Native culture developed various draft plans which were presented at public meetings of the Historic Resources Advisory Committee. The Committee, interested community members, and the Office of History and Archaeology reviewed and commented on the plan during its development and those comments were considered in the development of the draft plan.
A Vision of Preservation
In 1996 Juneau began a citizen visioning process. The participants expressed an underlying view of Juneau as that of ” a friendly community, rich in history and cultural diversity; gold mining roots and a strong Native Alaskan tradition.” One persons vision had residents and visitors able to “…touch and experience the history of the founding days because of efforts focused to preserve the historic character…” The visioning process prompted development of the following statements relative to the vision of historic preservation in Juneau:
- Juneau will be a community which is knowledgeable and understands the importance of protecting and preserving its unique pre-history, history, and Native culture;
- Juneau will be a community which takes care to protect and preserve the historic physical character of the community; and
- Juneau will be a community which is proud to share its past with residents and visitors in a manner which protects the valuable historic resources of the area.
Goals and Objectives
The goals and objectives of the plan provide guidance and direction for the community in the preservation efforts of its historic resources.
Identify, evaluate, and protect the historic and archaeological resources within the City and Borough of Juneau.
- Maintain and support the Historic Resources Advisory Committee as the CBJ citizen committee for the purpose of protecting historic resources in the community and implementing the Historic Preservation Plan.
- Continue the effort to identify historic resources within the CBJ.
- Determine the relative significance of identified historic resources in the community and officially recognize such resources.
- Identify appropriate measures to protect significant historic and cultural resources.
- Encourage and assist owners of significant historic properties to maintain their original architectural character.
- Extend the Downtown Historic District to include areas of similar architectural character as the current district.
- Support the Downtown Historic District Standards to assure the unique architectural character of the district is preserved and protected.
Increase public awareness of the value and importance of Juneau’s history and historic resources.
- Educate and inform the general public about Juneau’s unique history and Native heritage.
- Support and maintain the city owned museums (Juneau Douglas City Museum and the Last Chance Mining Museum) as repositories for heritage materials and information held in the public interest and as a place of learning about Juneau’s history and historic resources.
Preserve and protect the unique culture of Juneau’s Native people including buildings, sites, traditions, lifestyle, language, and history.
- Develop interpretive materials throughout the community to inform the public about the heritage of local Natives and other ethnic groups of the area.
- Provide a means for understanding and appreciating the traditional culture of Juneau’s Native people.
Promote heritage tourism which enhances and accurately represents Juneau’s unique history and Native culture.
- Promote accurate depictions by the visitor industry of Juneau’s unique historic background and Native heritage.
The Preservation Plan identifies a series of implementing actions which are recommendations for activities which will accomplish the goals and objectives for protecting and preserving Juneau’s valuable historic resources. Implementing actions include educational programs, guidelines for maintaining historic features of the community, and programs to continue documenting the community’s historic resources. Other implementing actions target community groups and organizations which actively work toward preservation of historic resources and the establishment of community processes for resolving conflicts between preservation of historic resources and alternative development and land uses.
Implementing the preservation plan is the key to preserving and protecting the historic resources of Juneau. It is recommended that the Historic Resources Advisory Committee take the leadership role in the community for this important task. The Committee is well established and has the expertise to adequately spearhead preservation activities identified in the plan.
The preservation plan will be most effective if it is periodically reviewed and updated. Recommendations of the plan call for such review. A public process is suggested to assure that the plan is meeting the goals and objectives. It is important that the plan be modified as necessary to reflect the desires of the community on preservation issues.
Why Historic Preservation?
The history of a community contributes to its personality. Preserving the history of a place through its historic properties gives a community its unique character. Historic preservation provides a link to the roots of the community and its people. It provides economic development opportunities in tourism and construction related jobs for repair and rehabilitation. Overall, historic preservation adds to the quality of life making for a more livable community.
Historic preservation is beneficial to the community in the following ways:
- Culturally a community is richer for having the tangible presence of past eras and historic styles.
- Economically a community benefits from increased property values and tax revenues when historic buildings are protected and made the focal point of revitalization and when the community is attractive to visitors seeking heritage tourism opportunities.
- Socially a community benefits when citizens take pride in its history and mutual concern for the protection of the historic building fabric.
- Developmentally a community benefits from having a concerted and well defined planning approach for the protection of historic buildings while accommodating healthy growth.
- Environmentally a community benefits when historic buildings are recycled (restored, rehabilitated) rather than demolished and disposed of in the community landfill.
- Educationally a community benefits through teaching local heritage and the understanding of the past and the resultant cultural respect by its citizens.
Why Preservation Planning?
Historic preservation efforts can be influenced by local, state, and national social, political, economic, legal and other factors. These influences can come from private enterprises or public agencies. Successful preservation planning recognizes these influences and utilizes a process for resolving conflicts from various interest groups and reaching consensus within the community.
Historic preservation planning is important for the following reasons:
- To clearly state goals of preservation in the community.
- To let residents know in advance how the community wants to grow and what the community wants to protect.
- To assure consistency between various government policies that affect the community’s historic resources.
- To educate and inform citizens about their heritage and its value to the community.
- To create an agenda for preservation activities and to create a way to measure progress in protecting historic resources.
- To comprehensively address issues relating to tourism, zoning, traffic patterns, development patterns, and design that affect historic preservation.
- To encourage economic development through the preservation of historic resources.
- To strengthen the political understanding of and support for historic preservation policies.
Trends Affecting Historic Resources
Juneau has experienced tremendous growth of its tourism industry in the past few years. The greatest increase in the number of visitors has been those arriving by cruise ship. The ships dock or anchor in the harbor immediately adjacent to the Downtown Historic District. With the pressure for additional tourist related commercial space many buildings in the historic district have been converted from resident oriented commercial uses such as hardware, grocery, drug, or clothing stores. The trend is for shops to open during the summer season then close for the balance of the year creating a seasonal ghost town. While the historic district design standards has helped maintain the historic architectural character of the district, the historic mix of residential, office, and resident oriented retail uses has been compromised. New development in the community tends to be suburban auto-oriented in nature thus the downtown is losing its historic personality.
Juneau’s overall resident population has grown in recent years as well. As families grow they need and want more living space. This often results in significant additions to existing houses or removal of existing buildings and constructing larger suburban style new houses. This trend can be detrimental to the overall historic character of the neighborhood by compromising the original scale and style of the uildings. These new developments often impact historic views of the area or from neighboring properties. Historic landscaping may also be impacted with the development of new industries, roads, and other projects.
The Juneau Historic Preservation Plan identifies the need for recording and preserving the pre-history, history, and Native culture of the Juneau community. It proposes the evaluation of important elements within the community which are critical in preserving its unique historic character and suggests a need for a public process for decision making when development and other pressures threaten historic and cultural resources.
This planning document describes the community’s history and makes recommendations about the preservation of its historic resources. It establishes a purpose for preservation and reviews the relationship of the preservation plan to the CBJ Comprehensive Plan. The document describes how community involvement has been a vital element in the development of the plan and stresses the need for continued review and updating of the plan.
The purpose of this Historic Preservation Plan is to guide efforts to preserve and protect the valuable historic and cultural resources of the Juneau community. The plan is intended to influence the direction of changes and development by public and private activities to be sensitive to historic preservation and cultural resource values.
The plan establishes goals and objectives that the community has determined to be important for historic preservation. It defines policies and actions that will serve as a road map for future activities with an eye toward achieving the preservation goals.
The plan recommends the establishment of a process to consider historic and cultural resources when development activities are proposed. Additionally, it recommends that work continue to document, protect, and preserve important historic and cultural resources. The plan recommends that CBJ provide a leadership role for this effort.
Upon final review and approval by the HRAC, the preservation plan will be presented to the CBJ Planning Commission for their consideration and further public review. Ultimately the CBJ Assembly will be asked for their review and hopefully adoption as an official plan to guide historic preservation in Juneau.
The development of Juneau’s Historic Preservation Plan involved public participation throughout the process (see Appendix A). A public scoping meeting was held to identify concerns and issues related to historic and cultural resources. The comments of the community participants and members of the Historic Resources Advisory Committee (HRAC), who hosted the meeting, were incorporated into the plan. The HRAC held a number of regular public meetings during the course of the plan’s development to discuss the planning process and to review the outline of the plan. A public hearing was held by the HRAC for its final review of the draft document. The HRAC directed CDD staff to incorporate final changes to the document based upon the public comments received and its own review.
Location,Setting and Character
Southeastern Alaska, or the Panhandle, is one of five distinct regions in Alaska including the Gulf area, the western region, the Interior, and the Arctic. This large (42,000 square miles) and diverse region is composed of a narrow strip of land along the mainland accompanied with a lacework of islands and peninsulas stretching approximately 500 miles from Icy Bay, northwest of Yakutat, to Dixon Entrance at the United States-Canada border beyond the southern tip of Prince of Wales Island.
The City and Borough of Juneau’s maritime climate is mild in comparison to other regions of Alaska because of the warming influence of the Japanese Current. The inhabitants of this hospitable region were the Tlingit and Haida Indians who established permanent villages and developed diverse and culturally rich societies. These societies were greatly changed with the coming of European explorers in the 18th century.
The City and Borough of Juneau encompasses more than 3,250 square miles within its boundaries. The CBJ is bounded on the west by Lynn Canal; on the east by the Canadian border; on the south by Point Coke; and on the north by the Haines Borough. About 90 percent of the total area of the borough consists of water or rugged mountains and glacial ice caps located within the Tongass National Forest.
The bulk of the CBJ land mass is located on the mainland. Numerous islands, the largest being Douglas Island, are located along the coastal areas and three major inlets penetrate the mainland area (Berner’s Bay, Taku Inlet, Port Snettisham). The coastal mountain range within the CBJ rises dramatically from the water line to elevations approaching 4,000 feet. The primary forest cover from the shoreline to alpine regions is Sitka Spruce and Hemlock.
The exact route of the first people that emigrated into Southeast Alaska and who these people were is not known at this time. 12,000 to 14,000 years ago the sea level was about 300 feet lower than now. This was caused by the glaciers of the Wisconsin glaciation locking up the available water and lowering world wide sea level. A sea level drop of 300 feet exposes a land bridge between Russia and Alaska that is 1,000 miles across. There are two main theories about the migration of people into North America across the Bering Land Bridge. The first theory is that people crossed from Asia into central Alaska and then followed an unglaciated area between two great continental glaciers through Canada into the unglaciated areas of North and South America. The second theory is that with the lowered sea level the migrants were able to come down the exposed continental shelf and enter the unglaciated areas. It is probable that both routes were used for the migration into the Americas.
There is archaeological evidence that people lived in Southeast Alaska for at least the last 10,000 years. The people that inhabited the region had a hunting and gathering subsistence lifestyle. They must have used some sort of watercraft for transportation because in addition to living on the mainland they also inhabited the islands of the Alexander Archipelago. Food remains at some of the early sites show a focus on bottom dwelling fish which also indicates the use of watercraft. Long distance trade in resources is shown by finding obsidian at two of the oldest archaeological sites in northern Southeast Alaska. The obsidian came from Mount Edziza up the Stikine River in British Columbia and Sumez Island west of Prince of Wales Island.
Archaeologists have divided the human occupation of Southeast Alaska into three time periods or stages. The earliest time period begins when people first came to this area approximately 10,000 years ago and is called the Paleomarine Tradition. These earliest peoples lived in small groups, traveled in boats, and subsisted on the coastal resources, such as clams, mussels, and sea mammals. They probably harvested the plants of both the inner tidal zone and the land, but evidence for this is not preserved in the archaeological record. This stage lasted for 3,000 to 3,500 years and is followed by the Transitional Period. With the beginning of this stage there is a change in tool technology in both the types made and techniques for making them. The same subsistence resources are utilized in this time period. The Transitional Period lasted from about 7,000 years ago until 5,000 years ago when the period called Developmental Northwest Coast Traditions begins. During this time period there is a continued trend to more complex tool types made of ground stone and bone. There is also evidence of increased settlement sizes. By 3,500 years ago, there is a change marked by specialized subsistence camps with the introduction of large scale salmon harvesting with fish traps and large shell midden. It is thought by some archaeologists that this increased use of salmon contributed to the development of the social structure of the coastal peoples. There is a change over time toward establishment of permanent villages with larger wooden houses which featured carved wood house posts and wooden floors. The Developmental Northwest Coast Traditions stage lasted from 5,000 years ago until 250 years ago and the coming of the European explorers.
At the time of European contact the Natives who lived in Southeast Alaska were the Tlingit and the Haida peoples. The Haida were located in southwestern part of Southeast Alaska across Dixon Entrance from Queen Charlotte Islands. Their migration into Southeast Alaska happened in the early eighteenth century when they displaced the established Tlingit people on the southern half of Prince of Wales Island and the adjacent islands to the west. The rest of Southeast Alaska was inhabited by Tlingit. Just when the Tlingit came to this area is not known. It is known that the Developmental Northwest Coast Traditions stage had been established in Southeast Alaska for the last 4,000 to 5,000 years. Madonna Moss states in a 1989 article that, “Although the 3,000+ year old weirs cannot be linked directly to the historic Tlingit, we believe the hypothesis that Tlingit culture developed in situ over a period of several thousand years should be considered.” The length of time that the Tlingit have lived in Southeast Alaska is a question that further archaeological work.
The oral history of some Tlingit clans suggests that their origins are from interior British Columbia. The Gaanax.a’di and Kaagwaantaan have origin stories about the Nass and Skeena rivers. From there they moved north, taking their clan names from the places they settled. The Dakl’aweidi and the Wooshkeetan oral history states that they came into this area by traveling down the Stikine and Taku rivers, respectively. After arriving on the coast they then spread north, south, and west. Some oral history mentions that when the Tlingit came to the coast that it was already inhabited and these people were either absorbed or pushed out. According to the oral history of the Kaach.a’di they originated locally in central Southeast Alaska.
The Tlingit that inhabited the area that is now the City and Borough of Juneau at the time of the first European contact were the Auk, Taku, and Sumdum peoples. It is unclear how many people lived in these groups or how long they lived in this area. In 1967 an Auk by the name of Phillip Joseph wrote an article about the history of the Auk people for the New Alaskan magazine. In this article he suggests that the Auks have been in the Auke Bay area for approximately 400 years. The 1880 census lists three villages for the Auks. They were located on Admiralty Island at Youngs Bay, on Douglas Island possibly at Fish Creek, and on the mainland north of Auke Bay at what is now the Auke Village Recreation Area. This last site was the main winter village for the Auk. From this central location the clans dispersed to their subsistence areas through out the Auk territory during the spring, summer, and fall. The earliest written reference to the Auks was in Vancouver’s journal of his voyage to Alaska in 1794 when members of his crew reported seeing campfire smoke coming from the village near Auke Bay. The village near Auke Bay was the primary Auk village until the 1880’s when most of the people moved to the area of Gold Creek to work for wages as diggers, carriers, and wood cutters for the miners that had moved to Juneau.
There is not as much information about the Taku and Sumdum peoples as the Auk. In some references they are combined into one group and in others they are separated into two. According to Goldschmidt and Haas in Possessory Rights of the Natives of Southeast Alaska they are listed as being one group. Emmons in the book The Tlingit list them as two separate groups. For this discussion they will be listed as two separate groups. The main village of the Taku people was located up the Taku River in what is now Canada. From this main winter village they dispersed to their clan subsistence areas during the spring, summer, and fall. In the early 1840’s the Hudson’s Bay Company established a trading post called Fort Durham in Taku Harbor. This fort was built to take advantage of the trade route up and down the Taku River. With the establishment of the fort the Taku people abandoned their traditional winter village and moved to the area of the fort. The fort was abandoned as unprofitable by 1843. The Taku people stayed in the area of the fort until 1880 when gold was discovered in Juneau. The Taku people then moved to the area around Sheep Creek to work with the miners for wages. The Sumdum people had their main winter village in the area of Holkum Bay below the Sumdum Glacier. There is little information about these people other than by 1931 there were no natives living in that area and according to Goldschmidt and Haas there was no one from that village left alive by 1946.
In 1725 the Russian Czar, Peter the Great, sent Vitus Bering and Alexei Chirikof to explore the North Pacific. On their second voyage in 1741 their two ships became separated. Chirikof first viewed Alaska on July 15 and Bering viewed Alaska two days later. In 1743, the Russians began concentrated hunting of sea otter pelts. Though the French, Spanish, and British explored the region, their presence was not as great as that of their Russian counterparts who, in 1784, established a settlement at Three Saints Bay on Kodiak Island. In 1808, Alexander Baranof, governor of Russian America, moved his headquarters from Kodiak to Sitka in Southeast Alaska.
There appears to be no evidence that the Russian explorers were in the Juneau area but they probably passed through the area as there was a fort established in 1833 on the present site of Wrangell. It is likely that the Gastineau Channel was choked with icebergs as it was in later years when Captain George Vancouver explored the area. Vancouver was heading north in 1794 to Cook Inlet and Prince William Sound then worked his way south through the area of Juneau. Although he was unable to pass through Gastineau Channel did sail around Douglas Island enough to confirm it to be an Island. He named the island for John Douglas, Bishop of Salisbury.
In 1867 the United States purchased Alaska from Russia for the bargain price of 7.2 million dollars. Alaska was virtually ignored by the federal government for several decades. Fortune hunters did not ignore the area however, and gold was discovered near Sitka in 1872. Rumors that gold existed in the northern section of Southeast around the Gastineau Channel area aroused further interest.
Southeast Alaska was a region explored by Europeans because of the possibility of great riches and eventually settled because these possibilities proved to be true. The Russians came for fur and established an influence on the area. After the United States purchased Alaska from Russia, prospectors searched for gold and found it in many places throughout Southeast. Discoveries along the coast from Windum Bay to Berners Bay led to the founding of Juneau. The success of the mining industry, from the late 1800’s to the mid-1940’s, and the transfer of Territorial government in 1900 to Juneau fostered population growth in the area. When the large scale hard rock gold mining activity ceased in 1944, the city continued to thrive as a center for Territorial government. This population was composed not only of miners and government officials, but of entrepreneurs, doctors, lawyers, and others that invariably arrive at the beginning of a new town. As a result, neighborhoods such as working class Starr Hill, Casey Shattuck, Telephone Hill, Chicken Ridge, and the Mendenhall Valley were established.
The Gastineau Channel area was the hunting and fishing grounds for local Tlingit Indians in 1880 when prospectors were searching for gold in Southeast Alaska. In Sitka, mining engineer George Pilz offered a reward of 100 blankets to any Indian who could lead him to gold-bearing ore. When Cowee of the Auk Tlingit arrived with ore samples from Gastineau Channel, Pilz grubstaked prospectors Richard T. Harris and Joseph Juneau to investigate the lode.
Harris and Juneau reached Gastineau Channel in August 1880 and sampled the gravel of Gold Creek. They found plenty of color, but did not follow the gold to its source. At Cowee’s urging, Pilz sent the pair back again. This time Harris and Juneau climbed Snow Slide Gulch at the head of Gold Creek and located the mother lode of Quartz Gulch and Silver Bow Basin. Their discovery led to the establishment of Juneau, the first town founded in Alaska following the 1867 purchase from Russia. On October 18, they staked a 160-acre town site. Their claim was entered into the record by Harris:
“This is to certify that R.T. Harris, Joseph Juneau, and N.A. Fuller have this date recorded 160 acres for purposes of erecting a town site, commencing at a point one mile above the mouth of Gold Creek and running up the coast one-half mile and along the bay and anchorage right opposite Douglas Island, to be surveyed into 59 foot lots running back 200 feet, Said town site named and styled Harrisburg. October 18, 1880. R.T. Harris, Recorder.”
Harrisburg, Rockwell, or Juneau as it eventually came to be known, was situated on the shore of Gastineau Channel under the shadows of Mount Roberts and Mount Juneau. A mining camp located on the beach, Juneau was composed of tents and cabins constructed of trees which grew throughout the town site, and supplies and materials brought from Sitka.
George Pilz shipped a pre-framed building from Sitka which became the first structure in town. The building no longer exists. Development in the fledgling town continued with the construction of the Log Cabin Church in 1881, the Northwest Trading Company which was the first retail store in Harrisburg, and the military post Rockwell. In March 1881, Master Gustave Carl Hanus, a Navy officer from Sitka, ran lines to formally survey the new town which extended from the waterfront to a prominent ridge less than a mile away. The ridge area was later called Chicken Ridge. By the end of 1881, the town had a code of local laws, a Board of Public Safety, and a post office.
Construction proceeded at a steady pace. The downtown business district developed almost immediately. Court House Hill, later known as Telephone Hill, and nearby sections were quickly settled and as the population grew additional land was staked and cleared. Scattered houses were constructed on the wooded hillsides northeast of the business district. A Native village was established on the waterfront at the mouth of Gold Creek near the current site of Willoughby Avenue. Cabins for miners began to appear on Starr Hill, a working class residential area and by 1893, the area of Chicken Ridge was being settled. In the nine years following the discovery of gold, Juneau’s population grew 800 percent from 150 to more than 1,200.
Gold mining was the driving force behind this growth. At first the creeks were placer mined. Then prospectors attempted to work the quartz veins by drilling and blasting to break the gold-bearing quartz from the surrounding waste rock. Eventually, the prospectors began to consolidate adjoining properties and attack the deposit of quartz veins on a larger scale. By the 1890’s, several of the small mining companies combined to form larger operations and out of this came the Treadwell Group, the Alaska Gastineau Mining Company, and the Alaska Juneau Gold Mining Company.
As mining grew and large companies expanded the workings, it became apparent that Juneau would not be just another “boom and bust” gold camp. Rather, it enjoyed a growing prosperity built in the mines, with their great mechanized mills, and large payroll. The three large mines, the Treadwell, the Alaska Gastineau, and the Alaska Juneau drove the economy. They became the largest gold producers of low grade ore in the world, recovering more than $158 million from the mountain rock stamped to dust in the huge mills.
The Treadwell closed in 1922, four years after three of its four operating mines collapsed in a saltwater cave-in. Only a handful of ruins and remnants remain of the Treadwell Complex which stretched for three miles down the coast line of Douglas Island. A Treadwell hydroelectric power plant remains at Sheep Creek across Gastineau Channel from the mine site. The Alaska Gastineau closed in 1921 after its gold deposit became economically unviable to remove. A few ruins of the former mill and the supervisor’s house remain on the hillside near Thane. An extant warehouse building sits on the shore of Gastineau Channel.
The last of the large mines operating in the area was the Alaska Juneau Gold Mine. It closed in 1944 due to a fixed gold price of $35 per ounce, high operating costs, and a post war-related labor shortage. Ruins of the AJ’s ball mill lie on the hillside above Juneau below the Mt. Robert’s Tram. The Steam Power Plant is also located in the area. The Jualpa Mine Camp, a division of the AJ mine is located in Last Chance Basin. Extant buildings include the Locomotive Repair Shop, Compressor Building, and Transformer House. Locomotives, rail cars, and rail lines also remain. The Compressor Building houses the Last Chance Mining Museum and is the only historic mining building open to the public.
For more than 60 years gold mining dominated the identity of Juneau and influenced its growth. After the decline of the gold mines, the influx of government kept Juneau’s economy thriving. In 1900 the town had been incorporated and Juneau was designated the temporary seat of government of the territory. By this time, it was a thriving city with numerous wooden buildings lining the streets. Residential and commercial areas had developed and there were nearly 2,000 inhabitants.
In 1900, the District Court moved from Sitka to Juneau and used rented quarters until 1904 when a court house and jail were built at the site of the present State Office Building. The executive offices moved from Sitka to Juneau in 1906. In 1912, Alaska was granted Territorial status and the first territorial legislature was convened at the Elk’s Club building in downtown which still houses the fraternal organization. Mining activities slowed in the late 1930’s and ceased with the closing of the AJ in 1944. Territorial and federal government offices continued to grow in importance and replaced the mining companies as the main economy of Juneau. Alaska became a state in 1959 and Juneau the designated capital. The community continued a steady but slow growth through the 1980’s. The tourism industry began growing and in the early 1990’s took on boom proportions to become a vital factor in the local economy.\
Historic Themes and Property Types
The general categories of reference, pre-historic and historic, can be further subdivided into time periods which represent eras of particular influence. These eras typically have a unifying theme which relates to the historic activities and development of an area. Various property types associated with the historic themes provide tangible links to the past of an area.
Using themes and time periods identified in the State of Alaska’s Historic Preservation Plan as reference the following eras were defined for the historic resources within the City and Borough of Juneau.
Table 1 – Historic Themes, Time Periods, and Property Types
|Theme||Time Period||Property Types|
|Lifeways and Ethnicity – Tlingit Occupation||1000-1741 Late Prehistoric Era||Archaeological Sites|
|Population, Exploration, and Settlement – Discovery of Gold||1741-1867 Russian and Euroamerican Era||Historic and Archaeological Sites|
|Commerce and Economic Development – Early Gold Mining||1867-1912 Early American Era||Mining Sites and Ruins; Commercial and Residential Buildings; Institutional and Educational Buildings; Religious and Social Buildings|
|Commerce and Economic Development – Peak Gold Mining, Beginning Territorial Government||1912-1938 Community Building Era||Mining Sites and Ruins; Commercial and Residential Buildings; Institutional and Educational Buildings; Religious and Social Buildings|
|Transportation and Communication – End of Gold Mining , Suburban Development||1938-1959 World War II and Early Cold War Era||Commercial and Residential Buildings; Institutional and Educational Buildings; Religious and Social Buildings; Expanded Roadways; Juneau Airport|
Historic Landscape and Architecture
The natural landscape of the CBJ plays as much a part of the historic setting as the architecture. The townsite of Juneau is nestled between the dramatically rising Mount Juneau and Mount Roberts, each soaring to 3,500 feet in elevation. This steep mountain backdrop provides a visually dramatic setting for the man-made environment of Juneau. The topography forced the construction of buildings which appear to cling to the steep slopes. The situation has given Juneau a unique and interesting architectural character.
The architecture of Juneau is reflective of the topography, climate, availability of local materials, expense of shipping materials to Alaska, shortage of skilled craftsmen, and the basic need for immediate shelter. Those who came to Juneau were generally from Lower 48 continental states. They brought with them the architectural styles of the day and constructed their buildings. Generally buildings were constructed for practicability rather than fashion, thus they became modest interpretations of national stylistic trends. The basic forms were reflective of the popular styles but the details and ornamentation were lacking, usually limited by the economic resources of the individual owner.
Construction materials were primarily wood with some poured concrete showing up in the mid 1900’s with the advent of higher engineering technology brought on by the mining companies. Fortunately, the downtown district has never suffered a major fire. For this fact the downtown looks much like it did historically with a mix of early western style false front buildings, as well as building styles commonly found in the continental states including Queen Anne, Art Deco, and Art Moderne. Adjacent to the downtown business district but within the original townsite is a mix of residential and commercial buildings of various styles. Some of the city’s best examples of Queen Anne residential architecture are found in this neighborhood. Other residential styles include Craftsman, Shingle, Colonial Revival, and Prairie School. Commercial styles include Art Deco and the International Style. An example of religious architecture is the Saint Nicholas Orthodox Church which is of the Octagon Mode.
The neighborhoods surrounding the original Juneau townsite are reflective of the socioeconomic character of its historic residents. Chicken Ridge, the neighborhood of doctors, lawyers, business leaders, and top mining personnel, features larger more ornate representations of the popular styles. The neighborhood is predominately Craftsman style with one being identified as a Gustav Stickley home. Other styles include Colonial and Tudor Revivals, Prairie School, and Queen Anne.
The Starr Hill neighborhood historically housed the blue collar workers of the community. The homes are generally smaller Craftsman Style constructed of wood with sparse detailing. Many were constructed from the same plan such as the Fries Miner’s Cabins on Kennedy Street. Similar building styles are evident along Gastineau Avenue which extends to the east of Starr Hill.
The Casey Shattuck area was subdivided into small residential lots in 1913. The residential buildings of this neighborhood have not been surveyed but appear to be predominately Craftsman Style. They are generally smaller in size and mostly 1, 1-1/2 or 2 story wood frame structures. The unique feature of the Casey Shattuck neighborhood is that it is relatively level ground compared to the other neighborhoods of Juneau. This allowed a typical grid layout of the streets and alleys.
The City of Douglas, located on Douglas Island across Gastineau Channel from Juneau, suffered three great fires. The result of these fires is that very few historic buildings remain from the original town. The last fire was in 1937 therefore the homes and businesses that rebuilt now qualify as historic but the old false front downtown district has vanished. Socioeconomically Douglas was a blue collar worker community with most residents being employed by the mines. Of the residential buildings which survived the fires most were Craftsman Style. The most prominent historic building in Douglas is the Mayflower School which is of the Colonial Revival style. It was built in 1934 by the Office of Indian Affairs as a Native school.
Until the closure of the Treadwell mines, Douglas and Juneau were thriving independent communities with commercial and residential buildings as well as churches, schools, hospitals, cemeteries, and recreation areas. Although the architecture of Juneau is modest in detailing, the composition of the neighborhoods into the unique topography provides a visually exciting context to the community. The majority of original buildings in the historic parts of town have been lovingly maintained by their owners which results in a pleasing character reminiscent of early days.
With increased population spurred by statehood in 1959, the outlying areas of Juneau proper began to be developed. The Mendenhall Valley became suburbanized in similar fashion as other American cities. Weekend cabins at Auke Bay, Lena Point, Tee Harbor and along the road became permanent residences as Glacier Highway provided a transportation link to downtown Juneau. Very little survey work has been done in these areas of Juneau. Two of the more notable post WWII buildings constructed in Juneau include the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center (1962) and the State Office Building (1965).
Historic and Cultural Resources
Much of Juneau’s land area is beyond the area of the urban settlement. While some archaeological investigations have taken place in the outlying areas, most of the resource inventory work has taken place in the urbanized areas of Juneau and Douglas.
In addition to the historic resources inventory managed by the Community Development Department (CDD), the CBJ owns two community museums. The Juneau Douglas City Museum is operated by the CBJ, while the Last Chance Mining Museum is operated by the non-profit Gastineau Channel Historical Society. The CBJ has no official historic records archive system although the City Museum collection does contain some historic archival material.
In 1986 a listing of 205 historic sites and structures was prepared by CDD. The “Inventory of Historic Sites and Structures” provided a comprehensive list of the historic resources within the boundaries of the CBJ known at that time. Since then numerous inventory and survey projects have taken place which have added significantly to the resource base. Approximately 452 historic buildings, sites, and structures are listed in Appendix D.
Probably the most significant aspect of the 1986 inventory document was the development of the historic neighborhood concept. The concept was to divide the borough into historic “neighborhoods” to put context to the resource inventory. Eleven historic “neighborhoods” were defined based on the following factors: “topography, architecture, association, and relationship of structures to each other and their location.” The identified historic neighborhoods were each given a letter designation to coordinate with a CBJ historic resource numbering system. Appendix F contains maps of each neighborhood. Following are the historic “neighborhoods” and their letter designation:
- Downtown Historic District
- Juneau Townsite
- Starr Hill
- Telephone Hill
- Chicken Ridge Historic District
- Juneau Borough
- Douglas Island
- Indian Village
- Gastineau Avenue
The more recent inventory and survey work has added knowledge to the overall understanding of the historic and cultural resources within the boundaries of the CBJ. The following is a synopsis of the work to date for each of the identified historic neighborhoods.
Downtown Historic District – The most recent inventory and survey work for the district occurred in 1994 when the National Register Nomination was completed. The district features 42 contributing historic buildings dating back to 1893. There are 16 non-contributing buildings within the district. The Juneau Downtown Historic District is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Alaskan Steam Laundry, Alaskan Hotel, and Valentine Building, located in the Downtown Historic District are listed individually on the National Register of Historic Places.
Juneau Townsite – Eighty-two (82) buildings were surveyed in the original townsite area and forty were determined to have historic significance. The Frances House, J.M. Davis House, and the St. Nicholas Orthodox Church, located in the Juneau Townsite neighborhood, are listed individually on the National Register of Historic Places.
Starr Hill – The only survey work in the Starr Hill neighborhood was done for the 1986 citywide inventory. Forty-four buildings were identified as having historic significance at that time. The Fries’ Miners Cabins Historic District, located within the Starr Hill neighborhood, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. In addition to the historic district, the Bergman Hotel and the Church of the Holy Trinity are listed individually on the National Register of Historic Places.
Telephone Hill – The most recent survey of the Telephone Hill area was conducted in 1986. Since then two homes have been demolished. The 1986 survey listed nine buildings which had been determined to have historic significance.
Chicken Ridge Historic District – In 1992 a major survey was performed of the Chicken Ridge neighborhood. Based upon the findings of that survey a nomination to the National Register was prepared. The period of significance for this neighborhood dates from 1893 to 1939. Ninety-five buildings were surveyed and seventy-five were found to meet the national criteria as contributing to the historic character of the neighborhood. The Chicken Ridge Historic District is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. In addition to the historic district, the Hammond-Wickersham House is individually listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Casey-Shattuck – Very little survey work has been completed in the Casey-Shattuck neighborhood. The 1986 inventory document lists three historic buildings and one site (Evergreen Cemetery). In 1994 a grant was sought to perform an inventory and survey of the neighborhood. In the preliminary research work done for the grant it was found that there was approximately 109 properties in the neighborhood. It was estimated that about 75% or 82 would be considered historically significant.
Juneau Borough – The 1986 inventory document lists thirty-nine historic sites and buildings that are within the borough but not in any of the specifically identified neighborhoods. Between 1987 and 1991 a series of inventory, survey, and structures reports were completed at the Jualpa Mine Camp of the Alaska Juneau Gold Mine located in Last Chance Basin. In 1991 a survey was performed specifically of the historic resources relating to the dairy farming activities in the Juneau area. Seven historic buildings remained from that era and four were determined to be significant. In 1992 an inventory and survey of historic shipwreck sites was performed. The area was limited to the boundaries of the City and Borough of Juneau prior to the annexation of the Admiralty Island lands. Five major sinkings or groundings (Clara Nevada, Islander, Princess May, Princess Sophia, Princess Kathleen) were included in the study.
Listings on the National Register of Historic Places within the outlying areas of the borough include the Jualpa Mine Camp Historic District, Eldred Rock Lighthouse (on the line between CBJ and Haines Borough), Ernest Gruening Cabin, and the Fort Durham Site (Taku Harbor) which is designated a National Historic Landmark.
Douglas Island – The Douglas Island historic neighborhood encompasses the entire island including the Douglas Townsite and Treadwell. The 1986 inventory include six historic sites on Douglas Island. In 1989 a survey was performed of the original Douglas Townsite. Sixty-six buildings were surveyed and twenty-six were identified to have historic significance.
In 1991 a survey of the Treadwell area was performed. The area was primarily the residential area of the town of Treadwell just south of Douglas Townsite. The work surveyed forty sites and buildings and found seventeen to be of historic significance. In 1995 a survey and inventory was completed of the historic cemeteries of Douglas. The survey confirmed 157 grave sites within ten individual cemeteries.
The only building listed on the National Register of Historic Places on Douglas Island is the Mayflower School in Douglas. The CBJ Community Development Department is currently preparing a multiple property nomination of the historic cemeteries to the National Register of Historic Places.
Tidelands – Very little survey and inventory work has been done in the Tidelands neighborhood. The 1986 inventory lists one historic building, the Pacific Coastal Steamship Company, which is now the downtown cruise ship dock.
Indian Village – No survey work has been done for individual buildings in the Indian Village. The 1986 inventory lists the Auk Village as a historic site.
Gastineau Avenue – This neighborhood which overlooks the downtown historic district has never been surveyed yet a number of historic buildings are evident.
Multiple Property Resources – Some historic resources have common themes, periods, and property types. These may exist in more than one historic neighborhood throughout the city and borough. Examples of these include mining properties, dairy farming properties, cemeteries, and maritime properties (shipwrecks and lighthouses).
The City and Borough of Juneau’s overall historic preservation effort is embodied in the Planning Division of the Community Development Department (CDD) which targets the preservation of buildings, structures and sites as well as the outward appearances of the Downtown Historic District. Through the comprehensive plan, downtown historic district design standards, national register nominations, preservation ordinances, and the documentation of historic buildings, the CDD integrates historic preservation into the planning process.
The City and Borough of Juneau has a long standing commitment to historic preservation dating back to the early 1970’s. At that time the CBJ Assembly passed an ordinance designating the remaining structures and surrounding area of the Jualpa Mine Camp of the Alaska Juneau Gold Mining Company as the Last Chance Basin Historic District. In 1976 the CBJ developed the Last Chance Mining Museum in the Compressor Building of the Jualpa Mine Camp as a community museum. It operated until 1982 when planning began for a permanent downtown museum which opened in 1986 in the WWII Veteran’s Memorial Building (former city library).
In the early 1980’s the CBJ reconstructed the streets and sidewalks of the historic downtown area when historic period light standards were installed. The upgrading of the downtown encouraged many private building owners to renovate and restore their historic buildings. In 1983 the CBJ Assembly adopted the boundaries of the Downtown Historic District, developed historic district standards, and established the Design Review Board to review projects in the district.
The Lewis Building was constructed in 1914. It housed the First National Bank during early years. By the 1970’s it had fallen in disrepair (below). Inspired by major street improvements by the CBJ in the early 1980’s the owner’s tried to recapture the original character of the building (bottom) during the renovation as a restaurant.
In 1988 the CBJ became a Certified Local Government (CLG). The CLG program, developed by the National Park Service and administered by the State Office of History and Archaeology provides assistance to local governments for historic preservation efforts. The Historic Resources Advisory Committee was established by the CBJ to oversee the preservation efforts and activities of the community and to perform the duties as described by the CLG program. Numerous matching fund grants have been received through the CLG and its predecessor program to survey and inventory historic resources, perform historic preservation planning, develop structures reports, nominate resources to the National Register of Historic Places, and “brick and mortar” projects. Juneau has also been successful in securing historic preservation grants through the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the State Division of Tourism.
In 1989 a Native fish trap, dating approximately 650 years old, was found buried in the banks of Montana Creek near the confluence with the Mendenhall River. This has proven to be one of the most significant archaeological discoveries in the Juneau area. With a grant from the Sealaska Corporation, the CBJ Community Development Department contracted with Jon Loring, Archaeologist, to remove the trap for conservation at the Alaska State Museum. The Native community was consulted on the project and it was agreed to develop interpretive material along a new park and trail system in the area of the discovery which was being constructed by the Alaska Department of Transportation and CBJ Parks and Recreation Department. The main trail in the system was given the Tlingit name “Kaxdegoowu Heen Dei” which was chosen by the Native community as it was the traditional place name for the confluence of Montana Creek and Mendenhall River. The name translates to “clear water running back” and refers to the back eddy created by the rivers meeting at this point.
In 1995 the CBJ entered into a use agreement with the Gastineau Channel Historical Society to re-open the Last Chance Mining Museum. Through a series of three federal Historic Preservation Fund Grants, administered through the Alaska State Office of History and Archaeology, Society volunteers, in cooperation with the CBJ, began stabilization efforts to the extant buildings of the Jualpa Mine Camp.
The primary elements of Juneau’s historic preservation program, as administered by the Community Development Department, are its historic neighborhoods concept, city leadership, public out-reach efforts, and economic development. See Appendix C for a complete listing of the various preservation accomplishments coordinated by CDD. The following discussion outlines these programs:
Historic Neighborhoods – The historic neighborhood concept was selected by the CDD for its survey and inventory work in the city and borough. Because of the size of the Juneau area and the unique characteristics that serve to define certain portions of the community, the division into historic neighborhoods was implemented to assist in data collection and documentation. Boundaries were established using the criteria of geography, topography, historic development patterns, and groupings of buildings with specific architectural style. Map C indicates the various historic neighborhoods throughout the community.
City Leadership – The CBJ has set a positive example in the community relative to the recognition of historic resources through the nomination of properties to the National Register of Historic Places. City owned properties and important historic areas have been nominated to the National Register by the city. The Mayflower School in Douglas was placed on the National Register in 1988. The Jualpa Mine Camp Historic District was placed on the register in 1994. Both of these properties are owned by the CBJ.
The Downtown Historic District, Fries Miner’s Cabins Historic District on Starr Hill, and the Chicken Ridge Historic District were nominated by the CBJ and listed on the National Register for their importance in the early development of Juneau. The contributing buildings in these districts retain the original historic architectural character of the past and contribute to the livability and visual interest of the community. A complete listing of the facilities listed on the National Register of Historic Places in Juneau is contained in Appendix E.
The CBJ has taken a lead in the rehabilitation of its historic buildings. In 1993 the Assembly approved the expenditure of funds to rehabilitate the Mayflower School and lease it to the Montessori School. In 1995 the city authorized the Gastineau Channel Historic Society to use volunteer labor for a CLG matching grant to do restoration work on the Compressor Building of the historic Alaska Juneau Gold Mining Company in Last Chance Basin. Subsequent grants in 1996 and 1997 continued the restoration work to the Transformer House and Locomotive Repair Shop. The city also entered into a use agreement with the Society to operate the Last Chance Mining Museum.
Public Out-Reach – The historic preservation activities of the Community Development Department have been shared with the public in many ways. Historic research publications are available at all CBJ libraries, the Juneau-Douglas City Museum, and the CDD offices. In the past CBJ has acknowledged efforts by private citizens who preserve their historic buildings by awarding certificates of recognition. The department has sponsored the local celebration of National Historic Preservation Week through presentations to civic and community groups, walking tours, fun runs, and a historic building recognition contest held jointly with the Downtown Business Association. These historic preservation activities were developed to build interest and to increase awareness of the unique historical qualities of the community.
Economic Development – Historic preservation is a powerful tool for economic development and support of the local visitor industry. The downtown street improvements have encouraged private investment in the downtown historic district. Through rehabilitation and restoration, buildings have been preserved to maintain their historic architectural character. The charm of the downtown historic district and the surrounding neighborhoods is an attraction which complements the tourist economy.
The Valentine Building was constructed on the corner of Seward and Front Streets in 1912 (above). By the 1970’s the building had been modified by changing the clerestory windows and the addition of a sidewalk canopy (below). In 1982 the owners performed an extensive restoration project returning the building back to its original design including restoration of couferred ceilings inside the first floor space (bottom).
Other Preservation Activities
Following are brief descriptions of preservation activities by other entities of government or by private organizations in Juneau:
City Owned Museums – The CBJ owns two museums which interpret the history of the community. The Juneau Douglas City Museum, operated by CBJ Parks and Recreation Department, was established to collect, preserve, interpret, and make available for research, materials which document the cultures and history of the Juneau Douglas area, defined by the boundaries of the City and Borough of Juneau, and the 1906 USGS Juneau Gold Belt. The City Museum is located on the corner of Fourth and Main Streets in the former city library building which was constructed through community donations as a memorial to WWII veterans.
The Last Chance Mining Museum, operated by the Gastineau Channel Historical Society, interprets the mining history of Juneau in the historic Compressor Building of the Alaska Juneau Gold Mining Company. The site, known as the Jualpa Mine Camp Historic District, features the Compressor Building, Transformer House, Locomotive Repair Shop, rails, cars and locomotives from the historic mining operations. The site is owned by the CBJ.
Local Register of Historic Places – Recently the CBJ Assembly officially designated a residential building in Juneau as having historic significance. The basic criteria used for determining such a designation was the National Register of Historic Places criteria. The Garside House was deemed to have historic and architectural significance worthy of designation as a historically significant structure in the City and Borough of Juneau. Such designation offers to the property owner some flexibility in applying the local building code when certain restoration activities are engaged in.
There are other historic buildings within the CBJ which likely qualify for such designation. This preservation plan recommends that an official list of historically and architecturally significant buildings be established for Juneau.
Gastineau Channel Historical Society – This community based non-profit organization promotes historic preservation through its various programs, publications and activities. Most notably the Society operates the Last Chance Mining Museum and has spent considerable volunteer efforts in the restoration of historic mining buildings in Last Chance Basin.
Sealaska Heritage Foundation – This private non-profit organization has various programs oriented toward the preservation of the Native cultures of Southeast Alaska.
Alaska Department of Natural Resources – Parks Division – This division of state government is the prime caretaker of three National Register buildings in Juneau; the Governor’s Mansion, the House of Wickersham, and the Gruening Cabin.
Following is a list and short description of historic preservation issues identified by the general public, HRAC, and the planning team of CBJ Staff and volunteers.
Confidentiality of Pre-historic and Historic Information: Often pre-historic and historic information must be held confidential to protect the resource. This can be especially true in regards to specific locations of archaeological discoveries. There is a need to develop procedures for protecting sensitive information yet make it available for research critical to the understanding of the resources in the community.
Impacts of Development: In recent years the community has grown in population and a severe shortage of housing has caused increased development along with redevelopment in historic neighborhoods. As traffic patterns increase and change, development of new transportation corridors has the potential to impact historic and archaeological resources. With increased pressure for commercial space in the core of downtown many, residents are relocating out of downtown thus the historic fabric of downtown is being lost and many shops close in winter creating a seasonal ghost town.
Impacts of Tourism: The rapid growth of the tourism industry in Juneau has caused concern for many long time citizens in the community. The issues raised range from traffic congestion to overcrowding on remote trails. Many are concerned that new development is detracting from the historic nature of the downtown area and/or that resources are re-focused to benefit tourism instead of local residents.
Intrusion into Historic Neighborhoods: The trend toward larger homes often results in additions to existing historic buildings or the replacement of historic buildings which often are out of scale with the surrounding historic neighborhood character.
Lack of Knowledge and Appreciation: There seems to be a general lack of knowledge and appreciation of the value of historic preservation in the community. With past efforts of historic preservation studies and projects this has improved but generally with a limited part of the community.
Modern Building Codes: Modern building codes often impact the ability to restore historic buildings to their former character.
Native Culture: A host of issues arise relative to preserving native culture. Modern day lifestyles have impacted traditional ways such as language, customs, art, story telling, etc. Native organizations, specific government educational programs, and certain school curricula attempt to teach the younger generations about traditional ways. The approach has been somewhat piecemeal however. It has been suggested that an effort be made to re-construct the original Auk Village at the US Forest Service’s Auke Recreation site as a traditional village learning camp and tourist education center. The concept would create a comprehensive centralized location for sharing and experiencing the traditional Tlingit lifestyles.
Place Names: Prior to contact with the outside world, Tlingit people had specific names for various places and features of the area such as rivers, mountains, harbors, and villages. Most of these names have been lost to the general populace as they were given new names by early explorers such as Captain Vancouver. Often the new names recognized post contact events and significant individuals. The loss of the traditional names represent a concern to the Native community as they try to reinforce their culture amongst their people and within the community.
Following is a list and short description of opportunities in the community which can play an important role in accomplishing the overall preservation goals identified in the preservation plan. See Appendix G for national, state, and local historic resources of information and programs.
Abandoned Shipwreck Act of 1987 – This public law recognizes the value of shipwreck sites and gives individual states the tools and incentive to take charge of shipwrecks in their coastal waters. The Alaska Historic Preservation Act sets forth protection legislation for historic shipwrecks and sites associated with them.
CBJ Tax Incentive: The CBJ has adopted a tax assessment forgiveness program to foster rehabilitation, remodeling, repairing of historic structures with a preservation focus. The program allows up to $20,000 of tax assessment forgiveness for up to 4 years for work done that preserves the original architectural character of the building.
Certified Local Government (CLG): The National Historic Preservation Act established the CLG program to assist local governments in establishing and developing local historic preservation programs. Once certified, a CLG is eligible to apply for matching grant funds. The program is administered by the Office of History and Archaeology (OHA) in conjunction with the Alaska Historic Commission. The funds may be used to survey and inventory historic and prehistoric sites, conduct planning activities, prepare National Register of Historic Places nominations, develop heritage education projects, prepare architectural plans, establish pre-development specifications, prepare historic structures reports and engineering studies, restore historic structures, and provide staff support for local historical commissions.
Juneau has been a CLG since 1988 and has benefited greatly from the program over the years. Since 1980 the CBJ has received over $185,000 in historic preservation matching grants from the National Park Service/Alaska Office of History and Archaeology. These funds were matched with a combination of Community Development Department Staff in-kind services, volunteer labor, donated materials and donated equipment.
Downtown Historic District Standards: The Downtown Historic District is the only district in Juneau that has design standards for development projects within the district. These standards are intended to preserve the historic architecture and fabric of the historic downtown commercial district.
Gastineau Channel Historical Society: The Society goals are to instill interest in and preserve the history of the community. The Society operates the Last Chance Mining Museum, provides support for the Juneau-Douglas City Museum, provides volunteer labor for preservation projects, and dispenses information about local history through a quarterly newsletter and publications.
Heritage Tourism: While some impacts of heritage tourism can be negative to historic and cultural resources, the opposite effect can take place if development is done sensitively and with adequate planning. The economic impact of tourism can be channeled into critically needed preservation if done in a way so as not to obscure the historic value of the resource.
An example of this in Juneau is the Last Chance Mining Museum which is operated by the non-profit organization Gastineau Channel Historical Society. The agreement with the CBJ, owner of the property, is to set aside a percentage of the net proceeds of operations for historic preservation and interpretive projects at the Jualpa Mine Camp Historic District.
Historic Resources Advisory Committee (HRAC): The HRAC is a committee established by the CBJ Assembly to oversee the historic resources of the community. An informed and active committee can make a difference in the community when decisions are made relative to impacts to historic resources. The duties of the HRAC are to review and make recommendations about local projects that might affect properties identified in the local historic preservation plan and to review and develop nominations to the National Register of Historic Places. The Committee cooperates and consults with the Assembly, Planning Commission, the Design Review Board, and the Alaska State Historic Preservation Officer on matters concerning historic resources. Additionally, the Committee is the logical focus group to implement the Historic Preservation Plan once it is adopted.
Juneau-Douglas City Museum: The City Museum provides the community and its visitors with exhibits and materials which document the cultures and history of the Juneau Douglas area. It is a valuable resource in the education of the community, especially the younger generations, to the value of history and historic preservation.
Last Chance Mining Museum: The Mining Museum was established in 1976 as Juneau’s American Bicentennial project. It provides the community and its visitors with exhibits and materials which document the gold mining history of the Juneau area. The Mining Museum was operated from 1976 to 1982 by the CBJ and was re-opened in 1995 by the Gastineau Channel Historical Society.
Local Cultural Groups: The local Native Alaskan groups, Filipino Community, Sons of Norway, and other ethnic groups work to keep their heritage alive. These groups should be encouraged and assisted where possible in preserving their unique traditions to culturally enrich the entire community.
Modern Technology: There is much that modern technology can provide in the preservation process. Interactive computer programs and interactive exhibits can offer a wealth of information in a format that is easy and fun to use thus encouraging younger generations to participate and learn. Computer data bases can maintain accurate records and assist in monitoring preservation efforts. Video recorders can document dancing, story telling, and other activities of Native and other ethnic communities for future generations. The Internet provides a massive communication tool for education.
National Legislation: Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act requires federal agencies to consider the impacts to cultural resources if they are determined eligible to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places. This process provides a method to review proposed projects so that detrimental impacts may be avoided. If avoidance is not possible then mitigation for the loss of the resource is undertaken. Lacking a local review process, the Section 106 requirement at a minimum provides for the potential impact by federal activities.
Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA): The effects and opportunities of the NAGPRA legislation are not yet fully realized. The primary purpose of the law is to return traditional artifacts to the communities where they originated. Not all Native artifacts qualify for repatriation but those with spiritual significance and connected with burial practices are specifically identified. These may well be the most important items to be returned to the community as they tend to be the basis of the culture and will help to pass the traditional ways on to the younger generations. The NAGPRA legislation offers a unique opportunity for the Native peoples of Juneau to recover important artifacts to the community.
The prospect of the return of cultural materials to the Natives of Juneau has sparked much discussion on how these artifacts will be handled. This discussion and the ultimate repository for the materials will raise the conscience of the Native community and others to the importance of historic preservation.
Sealaska Heritage Foundation: As a regional repository for cultural information of the Native community the Foundation is a valuable resource. The Foundation supports traditional story telling (Naa Kahidi Theater) and research of regional Tlingit culture. The Foundation receives funding from the Sealaska Corporation in addition to federal funding for education and NAGPRA preparation.
Vision and Goals
Visioning is a process of looking to the future and expressing the desire of where one wants to be at that place in time. During a community visioning process during 1996-97, participants viewed Juneau as a “friendly community, rich in history and culture; gold mining roots and a strong Native Alaskan tradition.” One persons vision was to “… touch and experience the history of the founding days…” He envisioned an abilitiy to do this “… because of efforts focused to preserve the historic character…”
Building on these community visions, the visions of this historic preservation plan are as follows:
- Juneau will be a community which is knowledgeable and understands the importance of protecting and preserving its unique pre-history, history, and Native culture;
- Juneau will be a community which takes care to protect and preserve the historic physical character of the community; and
- Juneau will be a community which is proud to share its past with residents and visitors in a manner which protects the valuable historic resources of the area.
- Identify, evaluate, and protect the historic and archaeological resources within the City and Borough of Juneau.
- Increase public awareness of the value and importance of Juneau’s history and historic resources.
- Preserve and protect the unique culture of Juneau’s Native people including buildings, sites, traditions, lifestyle, language, and history.
- Promote heritage tourism which enhances and accurately represents Juneau’s unique history and Native culture.
Strategy for Implementation Of The Plan
Strategy for Preservation
Strategies for implementing the preservation plan may include educational programs to increase the public’s knowledge, understanding, and appreciation of the community’s past; programs and guidelines for maintaining and enhancing the historic features of the community; and programs to document and protect the community’s rich heritage. Other strategies may include working jointly with groups and organizations which, through their own programs educate the community about historic preservation and actively work toward preservation of historic resources. A critical strategy for preservation would be the establishment of community processes for resolving conflicts between the preservation of historic resources and alternative development and land uses.
Objectives and Implementing Actions
This section of the plan features the preservation objectives which support the overall goals. Associated with each goal are implementing actions which offer strategies and/or specific tasks which, when completed, would meet the goals and objectives of the plan.
Where specific tasks are identifiable they are included within the implementing actions. Other actions may require further development and therefore no specific tasks are presented at this time.
Maintain and support the Historic Resources Advisory Committee as the CBJ citizen committee for the purpose of protecting historic resources in the community and implementing the Historic Preservation Plan.
- Change the role and responsibilities of the Historic Resources Advisory Committee to include the following:
- Reviewing and making recommendations on local projects that might affect properties identified in the local historic preservation plan;
- Reviewing and developing nominations to the National Register of Historic Places for properties within the city and borough of Juneau;
- Cooperating and consulting with the Assembly, Planning Commission, Design Review Board, and the Alaska Historical Commission on all matters concerning historical districts and historic, prehistoric, and archaeological preservation in the city and borough of Juneau;
- Perform periodic reviews of the trends in the community to assure the goals and objectives of the Juneau Historic Preservation Plan are being met and when necessary make recommendations for updating the plan;
- Review and make recommendations to the Assembly for local designations of significant historic buildings within the city and borough of Juneau; and
- * Perform other activities which are necessary and proper to carry out the above duties.
Continue the effort to identify historic resources within the City and Borough of Juneau.
- Continue to survey pre-historic and historic sites, structures, buildings, and objects within the City and Borough of Juneau. The following neighborhoods need to be surveyed for historic buildings to complete the inventory of historic resources in the community:
- Casey-Shattuck * Distin Street
- Gastineau Avenue * Starr Hill
- Thane * Twin Lakes Area
- Update the Inventory of Historic Sites and Structures: City and Borough of Juneau, (March 1986) to include recent survey and inventory work.
- Develop a computer database for easier access to the inventory of historic sites, structures, buildings, and objects compatible with OHA’s Alaska Heritage Resources database.
- Develop and implement a use and access policy for historic preservation information especially that which is sensitive to protect the particular resources.
Determine the relative significance of identified historic resources in the community and officially recognize such resources.
- Conduct assessments and develop procedures for the preservation and care of the pre-historic and historic resources by professionals in history, architecture, archaeology, and Native culture.
- Continue the effort to list historic Juneau properties on the National Register of Historic Places. There are some individual buildings and sites that have historic significance that should be nominated to the National Register of Historic Places. These include:
- Alaska State Capitol
- WWII Memorial Building (Juneau-Douglas City Museum)
- Treadwell Mining Ruins
- Sentinel Island Lighthouse
- Skater’s Cabin
- Bureau of Mines Building (Mayflower Island)
- Develop and adopt criteria for local designation of historically significant buildings, sites, structures, and objects.
Identify appropriate measures to protect significant historic and cultural resources.
- Develop design guidelines and standards to follow when proposed projects involve or impact historic buildings.
- Establish a special review process to consider potential impacts to historic and cultural resources caused by development projects.
- Develop partnering opportunities among Federal, State, and local government agencies to identify potential impacts to historic and cultural resources during early phases of project development.
- Establish a special review process for evaluating and mitigating potential impacts from tourism on historic and cultural resources.
- Establish long-range goals for the preservation of cultural resource objects and written and oral history.
- Investigate measures to assure that appropriate consideration has been given to the impacts of demolition proposals for significant historic buildings.
- Establish a register of significant historic and cultural resources within the City and Borough of Juneau.
Encourage and assist owners of significant historic properties to maintain their original architectural character.
- Establish a clearinghouse of design information to assist owners of historic properties when making changes to their buildings.
- Develop design guidelines for use by owners of historic properties to suggest methods of construction which retain the original architectural character of the property.
- Adopt tax incentives and code provisions which encourage maintaining the architectural character of historic buildings.
- Establish a process for which significant historic buildings in the community may be officially designated as such.
- Investigate and develop local funding assistance programs which will assist owners of historic buildings in retaining the historic architectural character of their buildings.
- Work with owners of historic properties to comply with Americans with Disabilities Act while retaining important historic features of their buildings.
Extend the Downtown Historic District to include areas of similar architectural character as the current district.
- Work with property owners of the area to extend the district for assuring the character of the historic downtown is retained.
- At such time that the district is extended, expand the current historic district standards to include any unique historic characteristics for this particular part of the district if different from the rest.
Support the Downtown Historic District Standards to assure the unique architectural character of the district is preserved and protected.
- Review and evaluate the effectiveness of the current Historic District Standards.
- Update the Historic District Standards if appropriate.
Educate and inform the general public about Juneau’s unique history and Native heritage.
- Work with school curriculum and programs to educate the younger generations about the importance of historic preservation.
- Develop an on-line Webpage which features the history of the community, explains the importance and value of historic preservation, and includes the Historic Preservation Plan.
- Promote historic events such as, the 4th of July, Salmon Derby, Celebration and other historic events, as a method of educating the community to the importance of historic preservation.
- Support and work with the Gastineau Channel Historical Society, Juneau Gold Rush Commission, Juneau Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, Native organizations, and other such groups on cooperative education efforts.
- Coordinate community education efforts with existing programs of the Juneau Douglas City Museum.
- Investigate a variety of media formats, such as video, computer CD’s, Internet web page, and publications, to educate the community of the history of Juneau and the importance of historic preservation.
Support and maintain the city owned museums (Juneau Douglas City Museum and the Last Chance Mining Museum) as repositories for heritage materials and information held in the public interest and as a place of learning about Juneau’s history and historic resources.
- Develop partnering opportunities with the Gastineau Channel Historical Society, Juneau Gold Rush Commission, and other non-profit and for-profit groups for cooperative efforts to promote the museum and historic preservation activities.
- Develop strategies for obtaining greater support for city owned museums and historic properties.
- Develop a comprehensive plan for operations, management, and facilities of the city owned museums.
Develop interpretive materials throughout the community to inform the public about the heritage of local Natives and other ethnic groups of the area.
- Work with local groups and the Juneau Douglas City Museum to document and interpret Native and other ethnic heritage.
- Provide public interchanges at schools and museums about Native and other ethnic heritage.
- Develop interpretive signs and exhibits within the community which highlights the history of Juneau from different cultural perspectives.
- Coordinate with developers of interpretive guides, tours, and signs to feature diffe