Legacy of the Gold Rush:
An Administrative History of Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park
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Chapter 6:
The Building Rehabilitation Program

When Congress passed Public Law 94-323 on June 30, 1976, the bill which authorized Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park, the park was an idea and little else. As noted in Chapter 5, more than six months elapsed before the first staff member, Gary Higgins, began working in Skagway. Regional officials recognized that the highest priority for the new park was the preservation and restoration of various Broadway gold rush-era structures. That work, however, had to await funding, land acquisition, planning considerations, and the creation of a park work force.

Gary Higgins, a historical architect, began work in January 1977; three months later, he was joined by Superintendent Richard Hoffman. During their first months on the job, the two men were largely absorbed by the mechanical technicalities of hiring a summer interpretive and trail staff, moving into the upstairs office in the Broadway Building, and planning for the June 4 dedication ceremony.

Park staff were also preoccupied with obtaining the materials necessary for an interpretive program. Several difficulties presented themselves. Neither the superintendent nor the architect were trained in interpretive matters. The staff, moreover, knew little about the resources they were assigned to protect and interpret aside from the master plan, the historic resource study, and such other documents as has had been prepared prior to congressional authorization.

Despite those obstacles, officials scrambled to assemble a basic interpretive program. In the northwestern corner of the old depot building, NPS caretaker Robert Vaughan cobbled together the space for an ad hoc visitor center by cleaning the windows, floors and walls, replacing several broken windows, and repairing one of the entrance doors. By early June, the center was open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Summer seasonals, based in the old waiting room, passed out a newly-prepared park brochure that James A. "Rocky" Richardson, the region's interpretive specialist, had prepared a year earlier, and they also distributed the state-sponsored Chilkoot Trail booklet and various fliers for city attractions. Decorating the visitor center's walls were various large-format historical photographs. A few gold rush artifacts were also on display. [1]

The staff also assembled a small audio-visual program. Chairs, including several of the railroad's reversible-back benches, were arranged in a makeshift room demarcated by a hanging black tarp, and visitors could watch any of three gold rush films: an hour-long version of William Bronson's Days of Adventure, Dreams of Gold; Pierre Berton's City of Gold; and Lyle Bebensee's Chilkoot Trail. Patrons were also given the opportunity to sit in specially-designed "audio chairs" (egg-shaped chairs that played gold rush music) that had originally been part of an NPS-sponsored, award-winning exhibit at the 1976 Calgary Stampede.

Complementing the movies and music was a ten-minute slide show, entitled "The Klondike Gold Rush," that was shown once an hour. Accompanying the lapse-dissolve slide production was a score written by Skagway resident Steve Hites. During the mid-1970s, Hites had written a number of songs with a historical theme. NPS personnel were sufficiently impressed by his music that they invited him to the agency's Harpers Ferry Center. Here he composed a medley of three of his songs--"Gay '90s," "Diggin'," and "Ballad of the Yukon"--that served as the slide show's sound track. The show remained a staple of the interpretive program through the summer of 1987. [2]

This initial "visitor center," which was blocked off from the remainder of the empty, unsafe depot by a hanging black tarp, was rude, dusty, and inadequate. Lacking any other alternative, however, it served the public for the 1977 and 1978 summer seasons. [3]

Initial Construction Plans

Once the summer season had passed, NPS officials began to map out restoration plans. In late summer, a Seattle firm appraised most of the properties in the historical district. That fall, Denver Service Center (DSC) architect Tom Busch spent six weeks in Skagway photographing and recording structures, and by the end of 1977 regional lands officials had completed the purchase of six private buildings: the Pantheon Saloon, Lynch and Kennedy Haberdashery, Peniel Mission, Boas Tailer and Furrier, the Moore Cabin, and the Moore House. (These were in addition to the railroad depot and the Mascot Saloon, which had been in NPS ownership since the fall of 1976.) [4]

By early 1978, park officials had decided that the first major tasks to be undertaken were the restoration of the depot buildings and the Mascot Saloon Group. In mid-January, Higgins submitted the initial paperwork for a historic structures report (HSR) for the two groups of structures. He envisioned that the rehabilitation of both buildings would involve a combination of restoration and adaptive reuse, noting that:

The depot embodies a high level of integrity on the interior and for the most part new functions should be fit into existing spaces. If we get into interior period restoration in the Mascot Group it will probably be limited to the spaces that front on Broadway. [5]

The other major step taken by Higgins and the other park officials was the commencement of a stabilization program for the park buildings. By March 1978, regional officials had made it known that the buildings were "in need of immediate stabilization." They proposed to begin the program that summer, using park labor crews under Higgins's and Bathurst's supervision. As part of their work, the park would repair roofs and make minor foundation repairs. It also promised that an archeologist would be used to locate, inspect, identify, label, and store any artifacts encountered during the stabilization work. [6]

A third idea, briefly considered, was the expedited restoration of one of Skagway's private buildings. The idea arose in early 1978, in response to the demands of Regional Director Russell Dickenson, who hoped to sponsor a project demonstrating visible progress at the new park. [7] In late January, Superintendent Hoffman told Area Director G. Bryan Harry that for public relations purposes, "The Regional Director wants, and we have promised to produce, a building on Broadway to be sufficiently restored on the exterior to provide an item of 'show'." Park officials concluded that the Martin Itjen house--which had not yet been purchased--"would be the easiest [project] to undertake in the time allotted." As late as March, both the park and region were still "anxious to get some visible, successful action underway..." Pressure to expedite the Itjen restoration eased thereafter, however, and the idea of a "show" project was abandoned. [8]

By the summer of 1978, the park had nearly completed its Skagway land purchasing program--purchases early that year included Verbauwhede's Confectionery, the cribs behind it, and the Itjen House--and the park labor crew was ready to commence its stabilization program. By August, it was reported that both Bathurst and Higgins were busy:

Pete Bathurst, preservation specialist, directs three crews, stabilizing buildings, moving them to less endangered sites, and conducting routine maintenance on park buildings. Gary Higgins, historical architect, draws the plans and proposals for restoration as well as serves as a watchdog over new construction in the historic district. [9]

Much of the restoration work done that summer took place in and around the Mascot Saloon Group. The buildings that summer were raised and placed on wooden cribbing. To accompany that work, DSC archeologist Dan Martin and his assistant, Mary Van Wyhe, conducted surface collecting at the site. Martin and Van Wyhe also made a test excavation beneath the Lynch and Kennedy building, and conducted more test excavations around the original locations of the Boss Bakery and Goldberg Cigar Store. [10]

Park crews also moved three buildings, two in 1978 and another in 1979. The Itjen building, which had been purchased in June 1978, was moved in July by local resident Paul Cyr, who worked for contractor Steve Hansen. The house was skidded from the south side of Sixth Avenue, just west of Main Street, to the west side of Broadway, between the Longshoreman's Union Hall and the WP&YR tracks. The newly-moved building was situated at an angle to the street and placed on cribbing. The Goldberg Cigar Store, purchased in 1977, was moved in August 1978 from its original location (on the south side of Fifth Avenue and west of the Seattle Hotel) to the vacant, NPS-owned lot at the northwest corner of Fifth Avenue and Broadway. Fourteen months later, on October 10, 1979, it was moved again to the east side of Broadway, just south of the alley between Fifth and Sixth avenues. That same day the Boss Bakery, which had operated as the Spirit of '98 gift shop in 1976-1977 and had been located on the east side of Broadway just north of Moe's Frontier Bar, was moved a block to the north. Its new resting place was between Kirmse's Curio Shop and the recently-moved Goldberg Cigar Store. [11]

Several of the buildings that were not being moved or worked on were used as ad hoc residences for permanent and seasonal staff. The Peniel Mission, purchased in the fall of 1977, became the residence of Pete Bathurst, the permanent preservation specialist. (David Snow, the historical architect who replaced Gary Higgins, later lived in the Peniel before it was taken over by seasonal employees in 1982.) Seasonal employees lived, at first, in Verbauwhede's Confectionery; they also lived in an NPS single-wide Buddy 1968-vintage trailer which was located on Fourth Avenue, just west of the Pantheon Saloon. [12]

By the fall of 1978, the number of NPS employees had expanded to the point that more quarters were needed. Planners at the Denver Service Center began to consider "temporary" housing for seasonal workers on the top floor of the Mascot Saloon. They recognized that construction at the site was still in full swing, and they also recognized that seasonal residence use conflicted with the buildings' purpose as originally outlined. (The 1973 master plan called for the Mascot to become a "city life" interpretive display area.) The City of Skagway, perhaps recognizing the agency's violation of its early plans, suggested transforming the old building into a teen center. The city soon abandoned its plan but the NPS did not, and during the summer of 1979 the second floor of the Mascot was converted into seasonal employee quarters. It served in that capacity from the 1980 through the 1982 season. [13]

During the winter of 1978-79, personnel at the agency's Denver Service Center continued work on the historic structure reports (HSRs) for the park's two main building complexes. Task directives were prepared that winter. On June 7, 1979, Regional Director Russell Dickenson approved task directives for historical and architectural data sections of the Mascot Saloon HSR; a day later, he approved another task directive, for architectural and archeological data sections of the White Pass depot and administration building HSR. That summer, DSC professionals visited Skagway and made detailed studies of both building complexes. Plans at that time called "for renovating the former public places for exhibits. The upper floors may be used for offices and storage." [14] By the fall, officials were predicting that rough drafts of both HSRs would be complete before the next construction season began. [15]

The HSR for the depot complex did not include a historical data section. Some building information had already been collected by Robert L. Spude. In order to gain a broader historical scope, architect Robert Carper of the Denver Service Center called on Gordon Chappell, who was the Regional Historian at the agency's Western Regional Office and an accomplished railroad historian. Chappell accepted the job and visited Skagway in June 1979. Afterwards, he began writing a National Register of Historic Places nomination for the complex. He and Spude completed the draft nomination in February 1980. [16]

Another depot preservation project commenced in 1979 dealt with interior paint and wall coverings. In September, a Denver Service Center official wrote the regional director of the need for "an accurate investigative survey" of the problem. The depot complex was found to be the only NPS building in Skagway that had an intact historical interior; as a result, the agency hoped that a "selective interior restoration" would provide a compatible visitor staging area in the depot's waiting room. The project was funded, and in November, John Robbins of DSC visited Skagway to inspect the interior finishes. Robbins completed his work and passed his recommendations on to architect Dave Snow, who noted that "a sensitive remodeling of the interior involving reversible interior finishes and circa 1908-1921 exterior restoration has been found to be the most appropriate design course." [17]

During the winter of 1978-79, it became obvious that the depot complex, untouched as yet by restoration crews, needed immediate structural attention. Peter Tomka, a Denver-based structural engineer, visited Skagway in February 1979 and noted that "The Railroad Depot and Administration Building at the present time are slowly sinking into the ground." In order to remedy the situation, the two buildings began to be lifted that spring. [18] A construction crew, using a large number of screw jacks, lifted the massive building off the ground. At season's end the depot remained raised on its jacks.

Work that year also took place on the Lynch and Kennedy building. In February, the building was in the process of being raised and leveled from the second floor joists by screw jacks. Shortly afterward, the agency, citing the deteriorated condition of the building's south elevation, proposed that the building's exterior be restored. By the following February, as a result, the old store had acquired a new foundation, roof and siding. [19]

The park was less than successful at implementing the various stabilization plans it had begun in 1978. At the beginning of the 1979 season it had proposed to lay foundations for the Mascot complex and Boss Bakery; in addition, it hoped to carry on exterior restorations on both the depot and Mascot groups. [20] By October 1979, park crews under the direction of Pete Bathurst had completed both a foundation and roof on the Mascot Saloon. The Boss Bakery, however, still rested on cribbing, and exterior work on the depot and Mascot had not yet begun. [21]

Accompanying the various construction efforts that year was the work of archeologist Cathy Blee, who visited Skagway that spring. Blee, assisted by Suzanne Bradley, Julie Guda and Steve Phillips, excavated six test trenches under and around the two-structure depot complex. The crew also conducted test excavations around the Mascot Saloon complex, between Boas Tailor and Furrier and Verbauwhede's Confectionery, and at the new locations of Boss Bakery and the Itjen house. Frozen ground prevented the quartet from completing their depot work. Work on the seventh (and last) trench, therefore, had to wait until the summer of 1980. [22]

The construction activity at the depot in 1979 necessitated a change in venue for the two-year-old visitor center. Agency personnel realized in September 1978 that the center would need to be moved. They soon cast eyes upon the picturesque, city-owned Arctic Brotherhood Hall, and in order to obtain its use as a visitor center they offered to give some money to the city for its refurbishment as part of the proposed city-NPS cooperative agreement. Given that enticement, the city signed the cooperative agreement at a September 21 city council meeting, and the AB Hall became the Park Service's visitor center beginning in the spring of 1979. It was destined to retain that role through the 1983 visitor season. [23]

The NPS Reassesses Its Building Program

By the fall of 1979, the park had been in existence for more than three years, and restoration activities had been carried on for two construction seasons. The staff, moreover, was undergoing rapid change. Richard Sims had recently replaced Richard Hoffman as superintendent, Gary Higgins had left that spring, both Robert Spude and Pete Bathurst were on the verge of leaving, and a new interpretive specialist, David Cohen, was being hired. [24]

At the same time, Alaska Area Office historian Bill Brown began to worry about the direction that Skagway's restoration efforts had thus far taken. He conveyed that sense of concern to Area Director John Cook. Cook, agreeing with Brown, wrote that:

Because of the ad hoc approaches that we have been forced to take at this complex area, things are getting a bit out of joint, particularly as regards possible discrepancies between preservation and visitor use/services goals.

To remedy the situation, he asked the managers of the Denver Service Center and the Harpers Ferry Center to convene a special planning group in Skagway. While there, they were

to take a new conceptual look at where we are and where we should go at this area. We need to provide a conceptual umbrella that can later be detailed in individual action plans, but which, in the meantime, will serve as a basic guide to synchronize park development. Our objective will be to analyze and then synthesize ... the key issues that cannot await the normal process needed to update planning and action documents. [25]

Cook decided to hold two separate planning sessions. Resource professionals were to meet for three days beginning February 25, 1980. A week later, beginning March 3, planners and interpreters would convene. [26]

The resource group consisted of Hugh Miller of the Washington office, Dr. Wilfred Logan and Dave Snow of Denver Service Center, Gordon Chappell of the Western Regional Office, Bill Brown and Ken Schoenberg of the Alaska Area Office, Bob Spude of the Heritage Conservation and Recreation Service, and park officials Richard Sims and Jay Cable. As reported in the local press, the "delegation came to...offer their views as to what direction the park should take with the limited federal funds for historic preservation." The group's primary goal was to set up a priority list of projects. Inasmuch as the depot, during the last several months, had begun to slip off the jacking system that had been installed the previous summer, highest on the list became the provision of cribbing or a foundation. Also important was the restoration of the complex's deteriorating south wall. Brown announced to the local news media that work on both the depot's foundation and the south wall would be completed during the summer of 1980. [27]

Decisions were also made regarding other NPS buildings. The crew outlined rehabilitation projects for the Itjen House, the Lynch and Kennedy Store, the Moore Cabin, and the Mascot Saloon Complex, and also decided to install foundations for the Goldberg Cigar Store and Boss Bakery (see Table 1). The other buildings--the Pantheon Saloon, Moore House, Peniel Mission, Boas Tailor and Furrier, and Verbauwhede's Confectionery--were to be mothballed, at least for the time being. [28]

Exterior painting was a major part of the proposed rehabilitation effort. The local townspeople were well aware that the Park Service was actively restoring the buildings. Cribbing, jacking, and foundation work, however, did not improve the structures' appearance, and many local citizens wondered why so much money was being spent on largely invisible projects. To improve community visibility, therefore, the resource group recommended that paint be applied to the depot complex, the Mascot Saloon Group, the Lynch and Kennedy building, Boss Bakery, and the Goldberg Cigar Store. [29]

On Monday, March 3, 1980, a second group met to consider interpretive, visitor service, and operations issues. The group included Terry Carlstrom, Douglas Cornell, and Leslie Starr Hart, all from Denver Service Center; Doug Warnock, Howard Wagner, and Bill Brown from the Alaska Area Office; Marc Sagan, from the Harpers Ferry Center; and Jay Cable and Dave Cohen of the park staff. [30] Highest among the interpretive priorities was the creation of a new interpretive plan. (Brown scoffed that the previous prospectus, written by William Ingersoll in 1976-77, was a "one man quickie" that was "entirely inadequate" because it covered only the Mascot and depot buildings.) [31] The group also concluded that the park buildings needed to be more identifiable to both tourists and local residents. They decided to attach an identifying sign to each NPS building; to install captioned photographic exhibits in the window displays of the Mascot Saloon, Boas Tailor and Furrier, the Pantheon Saloon, and Verbauwhede's Confectionery; and to mount additional displays on the exterior of both the railroad depot and the Lynch and Kennedy store. These displays were to be designed by Harpers Ferry Center staff and installed during the summer of 1980. [32]

Table 1. Construction Priority List for Skagway NPS Buildings

Numbers below indicate rank order of proposed rehabilitation projects.

Building Mar.

RR Depot/Admin. Buildingxx11

Verbauwhede's Confectionery

Boas Tailor and Furrier

Boss Bakery

Moore Cabin

Mascot Saloonxx33--86
Itjen Housexx2----977*
Lynch & Kennedy Store
x 11----689
Peniel Mission
(m)8------ 11 10
Moore House
(m)6t5--79 11uc
Pantheon Saloon
(m) 12------ 10 12p
Goldberg Cigar Store
f9t------ 12 13p

Symbols: x=high priority project, f=foundations only, (m)=mothball status, t=tie (same status as another building), uc=project currently under construction, p=proposed project. *=work on maintenance building (project number 8) began after Itjen work completed.

The group also decided that new brochures were necessary to explain both the gold rush history and the Park Service's role in protecting and interpreting the legacy of that history. The group recognized that two brochures would be needed: a walking tour booklet for the historic district, and a separate park folder for the Alaska park units. [33]

Having been given a clear "road map" for upcoming projects, the park staff proceeded to implement the suggested recommendations. Regarding the depot, work proceeded slower than expected. In mid-August 1980, the depot was raised another 6 to 8 inches to a "safe level," 11 inches above the street. Later that year, wood cribbing was brought in and the structures were levelled. A concrete foundation, however, would not be built until the summer of 1981. In addition, extensive structural repairs, as promised, were made to the administration building's south side, and siding repairs were made to the building as well. [34]

Other buildings were also improved. At the Lynch and Kennedy store, the roof was reshingled, new exterior siding was applied, and a new foundation was laid under all but the north side. [35] Extensive siding repairs were also made on the Mascot and Itjen buildings, and new roofs were applied on several buildings as well. Interior structural work was carried on at the Mascot and at Boas Tailor and Furrier. Dozens of broken windows were replaced throughout the historic district. And, as promised, many of the old buildings were painted for the first time in decades. Eight buildings--including the Lynch and Kennedy store, but not the depot complex--were painted by year's end.

Archeological work accompanied the construction activity. On June 26, 1980, Denver Service Center archeologist Catherine Blee and assistant Ross Becker visited Skagway and completed the depot project that Blee and her crew had begun in 1979. Excavations were also conducted near the Moore Cabin, the Moore House, and the new site of the Martin Itjen House. [36]

On the interpretive side, the promise of completing a new interpretive prospectus remained unfulfilled. The buildings, however, received brown-and-white identification signs, and the promised historical photographs were also installed. Progress also took place on the production of two new brochures. Interpretive Specialist Dave Cohen modified Robert Spude's summaries of the various NPS buildings, added several Dave Snow drawings, and completed production on "Skagway, Some Steps on the Gold Rush Trail," a walking tour of Skagway's historical district. Work also began on a separate folder for the Alaska units of the park. Cohen worked with the staff at the Harpers Ferry Center on the project, which was completed and available for distribution in 1981. [37]

During the winter of 1980-81, historic structure reports on both the depot complex and Mascot group were advanced. The architectural portion of the depot/administration building HSR, written by architect Paul C. Cloyd, was printed in draft form in April 1981. The report was uncontroversial and proved valuable during the depot rehabilitation, but a final report was never issued. [38] The historical data section of the depot HSR was written by Gordon Chappell, who based his report on the information he had previously gathered while writing the National Register nomination for the building complex. Chappell expanded his previous work through additional research, and by September 1981, he had completed a partial draft of the historical data section and submitted it to the Alaska Regional Office. But funding problems, and philosophical differences regarding the proper scope of the HSR, prevented the publication of the final report. The National Register nomination was likewise never completed. [39]

During the same period, the Mascot Saloon HSR was moving from its draft to its final stages. During that process a minor if spirited fight broke out over the historical authenticity of one portion of the building. Back in the fall of 1976, the historical architect in the agency's Pacific Northwest Region, Laurin Huffman, had proposed the removal of a badly deteriorated shed-roof addition to the Mascot Saloon. Huffman, who had been visiting Skagway for four years by this time, determined that the addition had been built "after the gold rush period," and probably "subsequent to the 1930's." Because the addition did not contribute to the "historical quality" of the Skagway Historic District, he was willing to approve its demolition in order to allow Westours, the adjacent property owner, to do some foundation work near the common property line. [40] The addition was removed by park staff soon afterward. Robert Spude and Dave Snow, however, discovered during their research that the demolished portion of the Mascot had been constructed between 1901 and 1905. They proposed its reconstruction. Huffman, upon hearing of this, noted that the post-gold rush construction date was the result of "a careful fabric investigation and was confirmed by several Skagway sources." He noted, moreover, that the shed was "a hazard to the public and encroached on the neighboring property." Snow, however, was unmoved, noting that he "totally disagrees with the findings of the Regional Historical Architect..." Those comments were forwarded to the Denver Service Center, and the final HSR, issued in September 1981, recommended that the addition be reconstructed. [41]

The Skagway Historic District Plan

Another significant event that took place the winter of 1980-81 was a series of confrontational meetings between the NPS staff and city officials. As is explained more fully in Chapter 8, the meetings were primarily brought on by local residents' disagreements over NPS policies in Dyea. Historic district policies, however, were mentioned during the meetings as well.

Relations between the city and the NPS had been rocky for some time when, on February 27, 1981, newly-appointed city manager Willard "Skip" Elliott sent an "ultimatum" to NPS Director Russell Dickenson. Elliott, backed by the city council, felt that the NPS had broken its promises; specifically, he complained that the historic buildings were being "turned into modern, government-subsidized housing for NPS personnel," instead of being restored and leased back to the business community. [42]

The complaints of Elliott and the council were well founded. Three of the historic buildings--Verbauwhede's Confectionery, the Mascot Saloon, and the Peniel Mission--were then being used for permanent or seasonal housing, and the trailer west of the Pantheon Saloon was being similarly used. And because the agency had been putting its construction funds into roofs, foundations, siding, and other emergency measures, no historic building leases ("leasebacks") were available and none were in the offing.

What Elliott and the council did not know was that the NPS was sensitive to the city's concerns and also wanted to push the reconstruction effort. No one from the NPS, however, had told city officials about the agency's plans. A year earlier, during the resource group meetings in Skagway, NPS officials concluded that a Skagway Historic District Plan was "badly" needed. The purpose of the plan, which was to be a public document, was to set construction priorities and to state how the buildings would be used. Immediately following its publication, the agency was to develop a set of standards for those buildings that were to be leased back for commercial purposes. Agency planners, at the time, were well aware of local pressures to lease NPS buildings; Bill Brown, the area historian, hoped that Boas Tailor and Furrier might be ready for a 1981 lease. [43]

The job of writing the plan fell to Dave Snow, who was hired as historical architect shortly after the meetings were concluded. [44] Snow was too busy with construction projects to work on the plan that summer. He recognized, however, that the agency needed to know the financial ramifications of historic leasing activities, so he created a series of cost estimates for likely building leases. He ascertained that the least expensive lease would be for the Mascot Saloon (first floor only), at $200,000. Following that, in ascending order of costs, would be Boss Bakery and the Goldberg Cigar Store ($250,000), the Lynch and Kennedy Store ($300,000), Boas Tailor and Furrier ($500,000), Verbauwhede's Confectionery ($600,000), and the Pantheon Saloon ($700,000). [45]

In September 1980, David Snow created--but did not make public--a first-ever list deciding the order of the various restoration projects. He stated, not surprisingly, that the railroad depot and administration building was the park's top construction priority (see Table 1). The priority of the remaining buildings was listed as follows: 2) Itjen House, 3) Mascot Saloon Group, 4) Boas Tailor and Furrier, 5) Verbauwhede's Confectionery, 6) Moore House and Cabin, 7) Peniel Mission, 8) Boss Bakery/Goldberg Cigar Store, 9) Lynch and Kennedy Store, and 10) Pantheon Saloon. The new priority list was substantially different from that derived by the resource group just six months earlier. The new list, for example, gave a relatively high priority to Boas Tailor and Furrier store and to Verbauwhede's Confectionery, two buildings which had been tentatively mothballed. The Moore Cabin and the Lynch and Kennedy store, on the other hand, moved from positions of relative prominence to obscurity. (Lynch and Kennedy appears to have been relegated to a low priority because of difficulties with the owners of the Pack Train building, which adjoined the store to the north.) [46]

Snow also made initial decisions regarding the eventual use of many agency buildings (see Table 2). That spring, the assembled professionals had decided that the depot and administration building would serve as the park's visitor center and headquarters. No decisions, however, had yet been made on the remaining NPS structures. The following uses were proposed:

Itjen House - park interpretation
Mascot Saloon/first floor - park interpretation, or temporary headquarters (if necessary); second floor - employee quarters
Boas Tailor and Furrier - employee quarters or leaseback
Verbauwhede's - seasonal employee quarters
Moore House and Cabin - year-round housing or interpretation
Peniel Mission - year-round housing
Boss Bakery and Goldberg Cigar Store - leaseback
Lynch and Kennedy - leaseback or youth hostel
Pantheon Saloon - permanent work shop and storage [47]

In December 1980, Snow and Cable shared the above priority list with historian Bill Brown of the newly-created Alaska Regional Office. At the same time, they made a plea to ARO management "to set...a course that can be shared with the public, thus defusing great public discontent and uncertainty in Skagway." Snow and Cable hoped to obtain "a public forecast of NPS actions, policies, and structure treatments," and a determination by the regional office of a long-term strategy of management, preservation, and use of Skagway Historic District." These were the very same concerns which NPS personnel had voiced in their February 1980 meetings. The pair went so far as to recommend that they, along with Brown, Dave Cohen, and Robert Spude, meet in March or April 1981 and prepare "an increment" of the General Management Plan (i.e., a supplement to the 1976 master plan). [48]

Thus, it can be seen that by the time City Manager Skip Elliott wrote his letter to NPS Director Dickenson, both park and regional staff were well aware of the need for a historic district plan. Many of the decisions that were to be included in such a plan, moreover, had already been made.

Table 2. Potential Uses for Skagway NPS Buildings

Building Master

RR Depot/Admin.ivc-ew====-lb
Boas Tailorilbeq/lblb====lb
Boss Bakery?
Moore Cabini
Mascot SaloonI
eq/i/ew ew/lbi

Itjen House?
Lynch & Kennedylb
Peniel Mission(no)

Moore House(no)

Pantheon Saloon(no)
Goldberg Cigar St.?


Symbols: eq=employee quarters; ew=employee work areas; h=hostel; i=interpretation; lb=leased building; p=public use (unspecified); vc=visitor center

(no)=not included as a potential NPS property; ?=unknown use

dash (-) indicates multiple uses planned or implemented; slash (/) indicates suggested options; equal sign (=) indicates same usage as for previous date; bold type indicates usage on a completed project.

The NPS responded to Elliott's February 27 letter by accepting an invitation to a public meeting, to be held in the Skagway City Hall on April 9. Elliott advertised that the purpose of the meeting was "to discuss the possible number and types of NPS buildings that will be available for lease-back in the next 10 years." NPS attendees included Bill Brown, Bob Spude, Dave Cohen and Dave Snow. Elliott and seven other Skagway residents also attended.

The meeting provided a forum on the historic leasing process, and residents were divided on the topic. Ole Slettevold, the owner of a recently-constructed Broadway commercial building, took a protective stance, arguing that leasing threatened local business people and property owners. But Jerry McNamara, who operated a Broadway business on property he did not own, stated an opposite viewpoint, noting that leases were needed to provide space for new business ventures. [49] NPS officials announced that they were proposing to lease five buildings: Verbauwhede's Confectionery, Boas Tailor and Furrier, the Lynch and Kennedy store, Boss Bakery, and the Goldberg Cigar Store. (Since the previous September, Verbauwhede's had been added to the list; though still being used as an employee quarters, it was no longer proposed as one.) The Mascot would "probably serve as a temporary visitor facility, but may be leased back to the private sector." The Pantheon Saloon was another possible lease; that use would wait, however, until restoration efforts were complete on the remaining NPS buildings. The Itjen House, the Moore Cabin, and the Moore House would be reserved for interpretive purposes.

The officials also laid out a rough timetable for the upcoming projects. Due to "austere times," officials estimated that the first building would not be ready for leasing for another five years. Other priorities, they frankly admitted, came first. Of highest priority was emergency stabilization and holding-action repair on the historic buildings; next in importance was work on the depot complex. The regional director promised that these two tasks would be completed in two years and five years, respectively, and that the agency would "complete comprehensive preservation work [in Skagway] within ten years." To the relief of local residents, they announced that the agency was almost finished writing a draft of a historic district plan that detailed these and similar statements; the plan, in fact, would be ready for review by the city and residents in another week. [50]

After the meetings were concluded, the historic district plan was considered further by regional office staff. They modified the plan to some extent; for instance, they stated that the Mascot Saloon would "probably" be used for interpretation and that the Goldberg Cigar Store would similarly be devoted to interpretation. On April 24, Regional Director John Cook wrote the park, noting that he approved the draft plan's "basic form and content." [51] Park officials then showed the draft plan to city officials, who were satisfied by what the NPS had proposed. As Elliott noted in a letter to Regional Director John Cook,

I feel that the public here now has a better grasp of the NPS restorative process and possibilities of lease-back. It is too bad that the restorative time frame is so slow but there appears to be little that can be done to speed things up.... Basically, the draft plan is uncontroversial. [52]

Elliott noted that it was unnecessary for NPS officials to discuss the plan further. Based on the city's cooperative attitude, the issue was forgotten for the next few months. [53]

In late October, the plan surfaced again at another public meeting. John Cook, the Alaska Regional Office director, and Regional Historical Architect Dave Snow met with a crowd of approximately 40 local residents and outlined the latest version of the draft management plan for the park-owned buildings in the historic district. Snow, telling the crowd that "we've got to decide what these buildings will be used for," indicated that the park's initial restoration project would be the depot complex. Later projects would be Boas Tailor and Furrier, the Mascot Saloon Group, the Moore Cabin, and the Moore House, in that order. Boas Tailor and Furrier, he noted, would become available for historic property leasing; in addition, he departed from earlier recommendations and announced that "some space" in the depot complex--presumably the Wells Fargo office in the administration building--"will be available for private enterprise." Cook, perhaps recognizing that priorities had already changed several times, was quick to note that "Our plan is not carved in stone." [54]

The historic district plan, as it turned out, quietly slid into oblivion after that public meeting. Local residents, by now, were well aware of the NPS's role in the historic district and the reconstruction process, and those topics had been a central part of the plan. No final copy of the historic district plan was ever prepared.

One historic district issue that never reached the public discussion stage was a proposal to change the Skagway Historic District's boundaries. The boundaries of the historic district, which were coterminous with those of the Skagway unit of the park, had been forged in October 1972, when the Skagway City Council had passed its historic district ordinance. The 1973 master plan, and the congressional act which authorized the park, used the same boundary line. That boundary line, however, assumed that the NPS would later purchase several parking lots for the use of park visitors; in addition, it assumed that the boundary circumscribed most of the historically-significant business buildings. During the spring of 1978, however, the city council (as noted in Chapter 7) nixed the parking-lot idea, and by the fall of 1979, Robert Spude's research confirmed that several of the town's most significant historical buildings lay outside of the historic district. Based on the new findings, Spude recommended to Chief Historian Ed Bearss that the boundary be realigned to include the additional structures. Anchorage historian Bill Brown echoed Spude's sentiments. Area Director John Cook, however, stalled on the issue. Finally, in April 1981, he recommended that discussion of a boundary change be deferred. [55] Since that time (see Chapter 7), the Historic District Commission has made several minor alterations to the historic district boundary.

Completing Emergency Stabilization Work

As Snow and others prepared for the 1981 construction season, they recognized that the main tasks to be undertaken would be similar to those that had been worked on during the three previous construction seasons: that is, the emergency stabilization of historic structures. At the depot complex, it was discovered that the perimeter was settling. Snow, clearly alarmed at the turn of events, wanted to install a foundation "as soon as possible"--by April or May at the latest. A new roof was to be applied at the same site; the existing roof was "in very poor condition and leak[s] profusely." Eight structures--the Itjen House, Lynch and Kennedy, the Mascot Saloon, Boas Tailor and Furrier, Verbauwhede's, Peniel Mission, the Moore House, and the Pantheon Saloon--were to receive exterior paint, roofing, and siding work "to help preserve them until more comprehensive preservation and restoration efforts begin." Finally, plans were made to rewire all fifteen structures. [56]

Documentary work was also needed. In January 1981, it was decided to perform much of the work that was later published in the so-called "Ten Structures Report." Paul Cloyd (of DSC) and Dave Snow were to complete drawings in the Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS) format, make photos and descriptions of the exterior and interior, and write alternatives for preservation and use for the following buildings: the Itjen House, Boas Tailor and Furrier, Boss Bakery, Goldberg Cigar Store, the Moore House, the Moore Cabin, Lynch and Kennedy, the Pantheon Saloon, and the Peniel Mission. By April 10, when the task directive for the project was signed, it had been decided to add a tenth building--Verbauwhede's Confectionery--to the list. [57]

By July, Cloyd had made tentative recommendations regarding the architectural appearance of the above buildings. Some were controversial. He suggested, for instance, that even though the Itjen House had historically been located beside the White Pass wharf, no efforts would be made to include the reconstruction of a wharf to simulate its earlier use. Regarding the Peniel Mission, he recommended that it be maintained in its present (post-1937) appearance rather than in its gold rush appearance. His most radical suggestion was that the Goldberg Cigar Store "be removed from the site, dismantled and disposed of." Dave Snow, the regional historical architect, agreed with each of Cloyd's suggestions. Regional Director Cook also concurred on the proposed treatments for the Itjen House and the Peniel Mission. But "the recommendation on the Cigar Store," he wrote, was "controversial and cannot be considered solely on technical grounds. For the time being ... I want you to adopt an interim policy of protective stabilization of this structure." [58] Each of Cook's recommendations were reflected in the language of both the May 1982 draft report and the January 1984 final report.

Cloyd's draft and final reports recommended somewhat different building uses than had previously been offered. Boas Tailor and Furrier, Verbauwhede's Confectionery, and Boss Bakery were recommended for leasing purposes, as they had since 1981; the Moore House and Moore Cabin were still recommended for interpretive purposes; and the Peniel Mission was still recommended as an employee quarters. Goldberg Cigar Store, however, was to be "possibly" interpreted as a gold rush-era business. The Itjen House was to be used as a visitor contact station. The Lynch and Kennedy store would either be leased (as before) or "for potential public use." Finally, the Pantheon Saloon would become either a gold rush saloon (for interpretive purposes), a leased property, or a park support building. [59]

During the summer of 1981, the buildings in the historic district received additional stabilization work, and by the season's end much of the most critical work had been completed. New or improved roofs had been applied to the depot building, the Itjen House, Verbauwhede's, Mascot, and the Pantheon Saloon. New foundations had been installed at the depot complex, Boas, and the Mascot. New siding had been applied at the depot complex, the Mascot, and Lynch and Kennedy. Finally, the depot complex, Itjen, Verbauwhede's, Boas, Mascot, Lynch and Kennedy, and the Pantheon Saloon had all been painted. [60]

Another major 1981 accomplishment was the completion of a new interpretive prospectus, which was approved by regional official Douglas G. Warnock on December 11, 1981. The document was, to some extent, a refinement of William Ingersoll's interim 1977 plan that had discussed only the depot and Mascot Saloon buildings. The document, which was the combined effort of staff at the park, the regional office, and Harpers Ferry Center, was largely concerned with how the depot would be interpreted when it opened. The existing program, however, was also described. It noted that "A few exhibits and a slide program are offered at the AB Hall, and guided tours of the historic district originate there. Self-guided tour pamphlets, gold rush films, and evening programs round out the interpretive offerings." The walking tours and evening lectures were new aspects of the program; they had been instituted by interpretive specialist Dave Cohen. Another addition to the program was the addition of a restored canvas boat (which had been removed from near the top of Chilkoot Pass in 1977) along with an accompanying interpretive display. The films and slide show, however, were identical to those offered in 1979, as noted above. The storefront exhibits, which had been installed in 1980, were also unchanged and were already suffering from deterioration. In order to bolster the latter two areas, the interpretive prospectus proposed that the length of one of the park's major films, Days of Adventure, Dreams of Gold, be reduced from 60 to 30 minutes; it also proposed new exhibits for most of the park's buildings. [61]

During the winter of 1981-82, NPS officials announced their intention to continue the stabilization program. The depot would be the top priority. In addition, the Itjen House, the Pantheon Saloon, and the Moore Cabin would receive new roofs, paint and weatherproofing. [62] What took place that summer differed slightly from what had been planned. During the spring of 1982, a local contractor laid the long-overdue foundation to the depot complex (see Table 3). That July, an Anchorage contractor applied a new tar roof to the railroad building. The other three buildings noted above were, for the most part, ignored. A building that did receive attention, however, was the Peniel Mission. The building, which began housing seasonal employees that year, suffered a roof fire (causing $4,500 damage) on June 3; as a result, the building received a new shingle roof in August. The building also received a new furnace. By the end of the summer, the Skagway News reported that the NPS buildings had been "restored and painted." [63]

Table 3. Chronology of Construction Activity, Skagway NPS Buildings

Building Initial

RR Depot/Admin. Building?2/821/842/84
Verbauwhede's Confectionery?4/8511/869/86
Boas Tailor and Furrier5/858/8512/863/87
Verbauwhede's Cribs?4/853/87e5/87
Boss Bakery5/858/8512/865/87
Moore Cabin5/8510/8512/863/87e
Mascot Saloon
Itjen House4/867/86, 7/894/9112/91
Lynch & Kennedy Store2/913/912/935/93
Maintenance Building9/8810/9311/943/95
Peniel Mission2/915/936/955/95
Moore House9/946/959/97e5/98e
Pantheon Saloon--5/97e6/99e--
Goldberg Cigar Store--4/99e8/99e--

* - Rehabilitation does not include emergency stabilization work, which took place between 1978 and 1981.

e - estimated date

In 1983, park restoration work centered almost exclusively on the depot complex so that the administrative offices might be able to move from the AB Hall to the new quarters as soon as possible. In June, the park received $56,500 from the President's jobs bill which allowed the park to hire five additional carpenters and a painter, and for the remainder of the year park crews constructed doors and windows, applied wainscoting and trim, varnished, laid subflooring, applied sheet rock, and performed similar functions. They also reconstructed four chimneys. That October, an Anchorage contractor completed the installation of the complex's mechanical system, which consisted of electrical wiring, heating system, and a fire sprinkler system. By early November, the local press was announcing that the offices were "getting the finishing touches, and moving day is fast approaching." Park staff made plans to move in early 1984. [64]

A Leasing Plan is Developed

Meanwhile, a plan was developed to lease some of the agency's Skagway buildings. Paul Cloyd, as noted above, had tentatively concluded (in the May 1982 draft to the so-called "Ten Structures Report") that three buildings--Boas Tailor and Furrier, Verbauwhede's Confectionery, and Boss Bakery--would be leased. Three others--the Lynch and Kennedy store, the Pantheon Saloon, and the Wells Fargo office in the railroad administration building--were being considered for the same purpose. Back in April 1981, NPS officials had announced that the first historic building lease would not be ready for another five years. But in 1982, the agency established a leasing program based on a 1980 amendment (Section 111) to the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966; perhaps based on the new program, the agency changed course and hatched a plan designed to speed up the leasing process. The plan differed from earlier proposals in that it called for the agency to complete work on only the building's exterior. The winning lessee would be obligated to refurbish the interior; the lessee, while doing that work, would need to follow NPS construction drawings and specifications. In exchange for that work, however, the lessee could expect a relatively low lease payment, and would obtain federal tax credits on all expended funds. [65]

The plan was announced on July 27, 1983, at a public meeting in the Arctic Brotherhood Hall. Attending the meeting were 40 local residents; presenting the details of the plan were Superintendent Richard Sims, along with Regional Director Roger Contor, Floyd Sharrock from the Regional Office, and Randy Biallas from the agency's Washington office. The NPS officials said that two park buildings--Boas Tailor and Furrier and the Mascot Saloon--were being readied for lease and could be leased "as early as next spring." (The Mascot Saloon was new to the list, it never having been considered previously as a leasing candidate.) Another four buildings--Verbauwhede's Confectionery, Boss Bakery, Lynch and Kennedy, and the Pantheon Saloon--were also being considered as leases. Based on the presentations made, several individuals expressed an interest in leasing park buildings. [66]

Despite the agency's promise that it would be able to prepare leases in time for the 1984 season, work dragged. In December 1983, plans still called for leasing proposals for Boas Tailor and Furrier, Verbauwhede's Confectionery, the Mascot Saloon, and Boss Bakery, in that order. But plans stalled, and by March the proposal--still in the planning stage--had eliminated Verbauwhede's Confectionery and the Mascot Saloon from the list of potential lease candidates. Sims, perhaps noting a reluctance in having lessees take on unrenovated buildings, noted that "it might be more feasible to have the park put a couple more years of work in the buildings before leasing them." [67]

Later that year, the agency finally released a request for proposal (RFP) for leasing historic buildings along Broadway. The deadline, which passed on November 6, 1984, yielded discouraging results. Only one party responded to the RFP. The proposer, local resident Dean Ray, hoped to convert the Mascot Saloon into a delicatessen. After some discussion with Park Service officials, Ray withdrew the proffered bid. Sims, reflecting on the results of the bidding process, concluded that "Apparently the private sector was not interested in rehabilitating historic buildings to NPS specifications in Skagway," and agreed that "the price was probably prohibitive for most individuals in town." [68]

Completion of the Headquarters and Visitor Center

On February 1, 1984, the depot-complex construction project was sufficiently complete that NPS personnel moved the park headquarters from the cramped confines of their office above the old Broadway Market to their spacious, newly-refurbished quarters. Most of the employees' new offices were on the second floor of the former White Pass and Yukon Route administration building; the office of the interpretive specialist, however, was located on the second floor of the old WP&YR depot. The NPS vacated the offices in which they had worked for the past seven years, and turned the AB Hall visitor center back to the city of Skagway. [69]

The NPS employees were justifiably proud of their new surroundings, and on the afternoon of March 30 hosted an open house to show the building off to local residents. Dave Snow showed them a slide program of the restoration. He and other park employees took small groups of visitors through the facility, and refreshments were served.

Guests soon discovered that the building's restoration was only partially complete. The completion of the employee offices was just the first phase of a scheduled four-phase, $1.5 million project. The opening of the public area downstairs, the completion of the depot's upstairs area, and the completion of storage areas had not yet taken place. [70]

In order to complete the next project phase, the park's labor crew laid sub-flooring, installed sheet rock, taped the ceiling and walls, installed bathroom fixtures, constructed a stage and a projection room, installed auditorium seats and lights, constructed new doors, rebuilt the windows, and applied wainscoting, trim, paint and wallpaper. A contracting company laid linoleum and carpet.

On May 18. the new visitor center opened for business. It was equipped with a 99-seat auditorium, a visitor-services counter constructed by local carpenter Marcus Brooker, and a film "tree" that played the park's primary film, Days of Adventure, Dreams of Gold, at the touch of a switch. A permanent set of exhibits had not yet been procured; therefore, a series of temporary exhibits were installed in the old baggage room. The "temporary" exhibits, as it turned out, would serve visitors for the next seven years. [71]

Shortly after the visitor center opened, Superintendent Sims wrote to city officials and requested a loading zone along the Broadway side of the depot. (An existing ordinance restricted parking along the depot's Second Avenue side.) Sims made the request in order to improve traffic flow and to allow photographers the opportunity to photograph the building. On June 7, the proposed ordinance was passed to a second reading, and two weeks later, the city council approved the agency's request with a 4-1 vote. [72]

On Sunday, July 1, the depot was formally dedicated in a ribbon-cutting ceremony held along the building's south elevation. The 45-minute program's featured speaker was NPS Director Russell E. Dickenson. Other officials included Marvin Taylor, Rail Manager for the White Pass & Yukon Route; Robert Arnold, Deputy Commissioner for the Alaska Department of Natural Resources; Neil Johannsen, Director of Alaska State Parks; Ms. Gen Dickey, a Juneau-based staff assistant for the Alaska Congressional Delegation; Reverend Ken Newell, of the Skagway Presbyterian Church; NPS Regional Director Roger Contor; and park superintendent Richard Sims. [73]

The park construction crew spent most of the summer work season completing the nine remaining second floor rooms of the depot. The completion of the work allowed the park to establish the park library, artifact storage room, conference room, rest rooms and storage rooms. The last phase of the depot construction project was the completion of the two rooms in the first floor of the administration building. (The room on the eastern half of the first floor had served as the Wells Fargo Company office during the second decade of the twentieth century.) Most of this project was completed in 1984; the laying of linoleum on the western half of the administration's first floor, however, did not take place until early 1985. On the depot side, most of the work was also completed in 1984; carpeting for one of the upstairs rooms, however, was not laid until the spring of 1985. [74]

The establishment of a library room and a curatorial storage area was the realization of a long-sought park goal. The park had begun compiling a collection of historic photographs in early 1978. The primary job of establishing a library, however, fell to historian Robert Spude, who assembled books, photocopied materials, photographs and archival material during his 18-month tenure at the park. Dave Cohen, the first park interpreter, catalogued the park's library holdings during his first year on the job. The library was kept in the interpreter's office in the park's Broadway Building headquarters. [75]

During the same period, the park established a permanent location for its museum collection. The collection had begun in August 1977, when local resident Larry Pagnac donated several gold rush-era items. For the next several years, the small but growing collection remained uncatalogued; items were placed either in the Mascot, the park office, or in the two-story safe located in the WP&YR administration building. Then, in July 1980, seasonal ranger Rebecca Harriett, working under the tutelage of Dave Cohen, began cataloguing the collection; she also moved the entire collection to the WP&YR safe. By year's end one-third of the park's museum collection had been accessioned, catalogued, and stored in a secure and stable environment. By early 1982, the collection numbered approximately 400 items. [76] That total was augmented considerably during the summers of 1982 and 1983, when park technicians catalogued more than 600 objects in situ along the Chilkoot Trail (see Chapter 9). By the close of the 1983 season, more than half of the park's catalogued artifacts lay in remote locations. Those located in Skagway, however, remained in the increasingly cramped depot safe; prior to the completion of the depot complex, the accession folders and catalog cards were kept in the interpretive specialist's office. [77]

Despite the lack of proper storage facilities, park staff in 1982 began planning methods to preserve and improve the museum collection. Mary Pat Wyatt, a Juneau-based museum specialist, was awarded a contract that year to conduct research on various preservation treatments that might be utilized on the artifacts. Dave Cohen began preparing the park's first Scope of Collections statement; it was signed by John Cook, the regional director, on December 3. [78] Finally, two Washington-based curators, Diana Pardue and Donald Cumberland, came to the park in August 1982 and performed a Curatorial Operations Evaluation. As a result of that evaluation, they wrote the park's first Collection Preservation Guide, which was completed in June 1983. [79]

Since the completion of the depot rehabilitation in 1985, other construction projects have taken place at the depot complex. In the summer of 1987, the depot exterior was repainted. A few residents had complained that the building's red color was unlike any that the railroad had ever used on its freight cars. To find its true historic color, old paint was removed down to the bare wood surface, after which primary and finish coats were applied. The following year, the park administration building was painted. As part of the project, workers discovered that the east parapet wall was more severely deteriorated than expected, and many of the boards had to be replaced. [80] The painting job was completed in 1989. The work involved tedious removal of layers of peeling paint, replacement of unsound wood trim, repair and replacing of metal flashings and ornamental metal moldings, new roofing, and repair of chimney flashings. Two years later, the maintenance staff prepared for the installation of the exhibit package by enlarging the door between the two first-floor exhibit rooms in the railroad building. They also installed new carpet in both rooms. [81]

Moore House Activities

The Moore House property was the other major focus of activity during 1984. Ever since the gold rush period, the property's southern boundary line had protruded onto the northern side of Fifth Avenue. Previous owners of the Moore House had had little difficulty with the property because Fifth Avenue had little traffic. But with the growth of tour-bus traffic, city officials cited safety concerns and asked the NPS to donate or sell a corner of their lot in order to widen the street. The NPS, however, would not budge. The lot, officials noted, needed to retain its historical configuration. That same year, the agency replaced an old, dilapidating metal fence with a wooden picket fence, similar to one that had graced the property during the post-gold rush period. [82]

Archeological activities also took place in the Moore House vicinity. Historical evidence collected by Robert Spude showed that the historic White Pass Trail passed diagonally (from southeast to northwest) through the NPS-owned vacant lots that lay between Kirmse's Curio Shop and the Moore House. In order to determine the extent and significance of archeological deposits in that area, Cathy Blee and Marianne Musitelli, both from the agency's Denver Service Center, excavated a pit and conducted several shovel tests in an area to the northwest of the Moore Cabin. They remained on the job during most of July. [83]

A third activity pertaining to the Moore House was the preparation of a historic furnishings report. Paul Cloyd's final "Ten Structures Report," published in January 1984, had called for most of the Moore House interior "to be restored for interpretation as an example of an early gold rush era residence and specifically the home of J. Bernard Moore." Regarding the adjacent Moore Cabin, Cloyd's report proposed that its interior be preserved and likewise used for interpretive purposes. In order to carry out those recommendations, a planning directive was prepared that month and approved in early March. It authorized the preparation of a historic furnishings report for the two buildings. The Moore House interior would be preserved as it had appeared during the 1897-1906 period, and the Moore Cabin during the 1897-1899 period. [84]

Sarah Olson, from the agency's Harpers Ferry Center, was given the task of writing the report, and a year later the draft was complete. Many were asked to review it; the comments received were uniformly positive. Robert J. Shelley of the Denver Service Center noted that "we believe this report accurately and concisely provides the information that was intended. Much of the data...will be of great use in our design work." [85] Olson's final report was approved by the Alaska Regional Office on June 28, 1985 and was published by the Denver Service Center two months later.

Initial Building Leases

Construction work on the depot complex, as noted above, was essentially complete by the end of 1984. The park construction crews, directed by personnel from the Denver Service Center, were free to commence their efforts on other buildings in the historic district. It was decided to work first on Verbauwhede's Confectionery and the cribs located behind it (the so-called "alley structure"), and construction activity began on both buildings in April 1985. That same month, the agency solicited bids from contractors for work on Boas Tailor and Furrier, Boss Bakery, and the Moore Cabin. Superintendent Sims was hopeful that the four leases (all but the Moore Cabin) would be completed by the end of the summer and would soon after be ready for occupancy. Sims further noted that once the first five buildings had been completed, the next four to be considered for rehabilitation would be the Lynch and Kennedy store, the Moore House, the Mascot Saloon, and the Itjen House. He envisioned that "if the money continues to come in," work on all of the historic district's construction projects would be completed in three or four years. [86]

SMICO Construction Company of Haines bid $500,000 and thus won the Boas Tailor, Boss Bakery, and Moore Cabin contract. A series of unexpected delays, however, ensued soon afterward. During the summer of 1985, for example, contractors discovered that the Boss Bakery site was underlain by a high water table; as a result, the building's utilities had to be relocated from a proposed basement to a rear utility room. It was also determined that the wood comprising the Boss building was so deteriorated that all but the false front needed to be replaced. And at the Moore Cabin, NPS personnel demanded a more expensive foundation than the bid had specified.

As a result of these delays, none of the four buildings intended for lease (Verbauwhede's, the alley structure, Boas, and Boss) was completed by the end of summer, as Sims had predicted. [87] On January 3, 1986, the NPS informed SMICO that 85 percent of the bid's funds had been spent without having completed a proportional share of the contract work. Agency officials, however, took pains to say that the cost overrun was not the fault of the contractor. They therefore allowed the contractor to expend the remaining 15 percent of its contract; after that point, they had the park's day labor crew finish work on the Boas and Boss buildings. In January, officials were still expressing hope that the four lease buildings would be completed before the summer season, but two months later, they gave an early summer completion date. [88]

As the buildings neared completion, NPS officials readied a Request for Proposals (RFP) for the four park buildings that were proposed as historic building leases. [89] The RFP, which was issued on February 1, 1986, was unlike the document that had been offered to potential lessees in the fall of 1984 because the new RFP called for a full renovation by the NPS for the building's interior as well as its exterior. As specified in the RFP, potential lessees could use the four buildings for any purpose, except that "arcade uses and any entertainment inappropriate for a family audience" would be prohibited. The public sale of alcoholic beverages would also be prohibited; it would be permitted, however, when served with a meal to be consumed on the premises. The proposed building use could not conflict with the public use of the park. The contract was to be for a fifteen-year period. The minimum annual lease payment for Verbauwhede's Confectionery was to be $5,476; for the alley structure, $4,599; for Boas Tailor and Furrier, $10,229; and for Boss Bakery, $4,910. Potential lessees were given until April 1, 1986 to submit their bid. The RFP stated that all four buildings would be completed by May 1. It noted, however, that "proposers should not rely on these estimated completion dates as the NPS may have to extend them." By mid-February, acting superintendent Jay Cable was already backing off from the May 1 deadline; he told the local press that only two properties--Verbauwhede's Confectionery and the adjacent cribs--would be available for occupancy that summer. Rehabilitation work on the other two properties would not be completed until some time that summer; occupancy would need to wait until the summer of 1987. [90]

The NPS hoped to use its building lease program as a vehicle for historical interpretation, and to that end the RFP encouraged potential lessees to include historical items and educational materials in the display windows of their businesses. In order to assist that effort, NPS personnel had recently been active in preparing materials for displays in the windows of potential leases. In March 1984, Sarah Olson (of the agency's Harpers Ferry Center) began compiling a report on the subject. The report, which followed a recommendation made in the 1981 interpretive prospectus, was intended to offer suggestions on window displays for Boas Tailor and Furrier, Verbauwhede's Confectionery, Boss Bakery, Goldberg Cigar Store, the Lynch and Kennedy store, the Pantheon Saloon, and the Mascot Saloon. [91] Completed in draft form in September 1985, Olson's report revealed that sufficient historical evidence existed to warrant a re-creation of historical window displays at the Lynch and Kennedy store and at the Mascot Saloon; there was graphic display potential at Boas Tailor, Boss Bakery, Goldberg Cigar Store and the Pantheon Saloon; and that there was insufficient information at Verbauwhede's Confectionery to warrant a historical interpretive display. The report, after undergoing editorial review, was finalized in early 1986. [92]

The NPS received only two lease proposals by the April 1 deadline. Both proposals were judged to be qualified; both proposals, moreover, were for the same building, Verbauwhede's Confectionery. After some negotiation with the potential lessees, NPS officials decided to award the Verbauwhede's lease to Casey McBride, a local goldsmith who had operated Taiya River Jewelry in the Pack Train building for the past several years. Jeff Brady, the editor of the Skagway News, had bid on Verbauwhede's as well, but inasmuch as he had specified Boas Tailor and Furrier as an alternate choice, he was awarded the lease for that building. McBride and Brady offered to make annual payments of $8,000 and $10,230, respectively. [93]

The NPS followed the lease awards with a June 14 open house and a ceremony that featured Regional Director Boyd Evison, acting superintendent Jay Cable, and the two lessees. McBride's building was by now complete, but because of the summer rush he decided to wait until September to move into his site. Some work remained on Boas Tailor and Furrier, and as a result Brady stated that he would not move into the building and commence his planned Skaguay News Depot until March 1987. [94]

The rehabilitation of the first two lease buildings, and their successful occupancy by local businessmen soon afterwards, put the park firmly in the leasing business. By the time of the awards ceremony, the NPS was already well established with its historic leasing program. The program had begun during the 1985 fiscal year, when ten structures--eight of them in the agency's Southeast Region--had been leased. Ten more structures were leased in fiscal year 1986, two of which were located in Skagway. Although Klondike, by this measure, was not a pioneer park in regards to property leasing, it was perhaps the only park in the system in which historic leasing would play such an important part in a community's economic affairs. [95]

As the summer of 1986 came to a close, Clay Alderson took over the superintendency from Jay Cable, who had been serving in an acting capacity for the previous nine months. Alderson was determined to lease the Verbauwhede's cribs and the Boss Bakery, which had received no qualified bids that April, and a new RFP was prepared. But inequities in the buildings' appraisal, and delays in the construction effort, delayed the issuance of the RFP until early 1987. [96] The NPS received just two offers in response, one for each property. In March 1987, Alderson announced that Bryan and Debi Ritter, representing Principal Barbers, had won the bid for the Boss Bakery building. Glenda Choate, head of Alaska Archives and Records Management, won the bid for Verbauwhede's cribs. The Ritters, who intended to operate a beauty and barber shop, agreed to an annual payment of $6,600. Choate, who intended to operate "Miss Kitty's," a retail merchandise store, agreed to a $4,200 annual leasing fee. Both leases were for a fifteen year period. Both businesses opened in the summer of 1987. [97]

The Moore Cabin, the fifth NPS building to be rehabilitated, was worked on during the same general period that the Verbauwhede's Confectionery buildings, Boas Tailor and Furrier, and Boss Bakery were being worked on. As noted above, SMICO Construction Company of Haines won the contract to rebuild the cabin. The cabin exterior, to a large degree, was to be reconstructed. Superintendent Sims noted that the old logs would be taken down and replaced, and the building would be placed on concrete piers. "It was built so long ago, there's no other way to save it," he observed. [98]

During the summer of 1985, archeologists prepared for the coming restoration by investigating the cabin's attic. That fall, a large, metal shed was erected over the cabin. Given the relative security and freedom from weather offered by the shed, project work proceeded. By November 1985 the cabin had been disassembled, and all the old logs taken out. Plans called for the installation of a concrete foundation, the replacement of most of the exterior logs (all but the truncated logs under the eaves) with new logs and the addition of strengthening members. Greg Podsiki and Tom Faverty, cabin specialists from Haines, were assigned primary reconstruction responsibilities. [99]

By the end of 1986, cabin work had been completed and a paraffin, wax and varnish preservative had been applied. Soon afterward, the metal shell was removed to reveal the newly-reconstituted structure. By April, park staff were planning a cabin dedication; the event, to be held on July 5, was doubly important because 1987 was the centennial anniversary of Captain William Moore's arrival in Skagway Valley. [100] The dedication was held as scheduled. Speeches were made by park superintendent Clay Alderson, newspaperman Jeff Brady, Native leader Silas Dennis, Sr., and Regional Director Boyd Evison; special guests included Neva Egan, widow of Alaska's first governor, and former Moore Cabin owner Jack Kirmse. An estimated 150 to 200 people attended the event, which included the opportunity to walk through the newly-restored cabin. [101]

Mascot Saloon Rehabilitation

During the spring of 1986, Congress provided the park a supplemental sum for construction purposes. As a result, the park day labor crew which had been working on the Verbauwhede's Confectionery buildings was able, beginning in July, to commence work on the rehabilitation of both the Mascot Saloon Complex and the Martin Itjen House. (Archeological crews, that spring, had performed compliance excavations at both sites.) The agency's selection of the Mascot Saloon and the Itjen House signalled a reordering of priorities; the previous November, outgoing Superintendent Sims had stated that the Lynch and Kennedy store and the Moore House would be the next two projects to be undertaken. [102] Clay Alderson, who came on board in September, vowed to see both the Mascot and the Itjen buildings through to completion. A short time later, however, construction work at the Itjen House site was halted in order to concentrate on the Mascot Saloon. [103]

Although funding levels for construction projects through the government's Lump Sum Construction Program began to tighten up during the winter of 1986-87, work nevertheless continued on the Mascot Saloon rehabilitation project. Park planners, up to this point, had assumed that the building upon completion would be used for commercial leasing purposes. As noted in the following section, however, a meeting of NPS personnel which was held at the park in mid-March 1987 decided otherwise. At that meeting, officials decided to offer as a lease only the Pacific Clipper Line and Hern Liquor Store portion of the building (that is, the central and southern units of the three-part Mascot Saloon complex). In the northernmost unit, the old Mascot Saloon, it was decided to create an interpretive facility on the first floor. The rear of the building would include public rest rooms, for which a strong need had long been evident in the historic district. The second floor would be devoted to a curatorial storage area, while the garage would be converted into an archeological laboratory. [104]

During the remainder of 1987 work continued, and by year's end approximately 90 percent of the exterior had been completed. Interior work, however, was halted until architects redesigned the area to incorporate changes made at the mid-March meeting. By this time, design work on the building was 95 percent complete, and extra time was needed to design the rest rooms, the heavy timbers needed to support the curatorial collection, and the historic wood floors. In addition, work could not proceed until a contract could be let for installation of electrical wiring and a fire protection system. [105]

The lack of funds halted work on both the interior and exterior for more than two months in early 1988. Once work resumed, officials concentrated on finishing the building's exterior; on the interior, they decided to focus on the rehabilitation of the Pacific Clipper Line and Hern's Liquor portions of the building. The agency intended to complete the work by the fall of 1988 and have it available for lease for the 1989 summer season. [106]

The agency was fortunate to receive a Congressional funding supplement for the Mascot construction project, and by the end of 1988 the exterior of the building complex had been completely restored, with large display windows on the Broadway side of the building. [107] Work on the interior was somewhat slower. As promised, contractors installed the sprinkler system. The Hern-Clipper interior, however, was not ready for occupancy until the end of February 1989. In order to lease the building for the 1989 season, the agency issued an Request for Proposal with a January 4 deadline. It received five proposals, and on January 31 it selected the bid of Jeweler's Bench, a company that already had a jewelry shop in Sitka. The lease was to be for 15 years; the winning bidder offered to pay $14,500 annually. The company began operating its Skagway jewelry and curio shop in May 1989; a year later, it subleased the second floor to Barbara Suvia Turner, who opened the Cabbage Rose gift shop. [108]

In September 1988, Congress approved $657,000 in additional funds for Mascot construction work, enough to finish the building's interior. Given the financial wherewithal, work continued there for more than a year. During 1989, the Mascot was the park's major restoration project; that summer, officials predicted that the building and its accompanying exhibits would be open to the public for the 1990 summer season. [109] The amount of work, however, was such that rehabilitation of the interior was not completed until March 1991. Soon afterward, the $1.2 million project was finished and the building was made available for occupancy. The bar and other exhibits were installed that spring. The rest rooms were open to the public in mid-June and on June 30, NPS officials dedicated the saloon and held an open house to celebrate the completion of the rehabilitation project, the 75th anniversary of the National Park Service, and the 15th anniversary of the park. NPS historian Frank Norris spoke at the event and provided a brief historical synopsis. [110]

To park staff, one of the most satisfying byproducts of the completion of work was the opening of the Mascot Archeological Laboratory and Storage Facility on the building's second floor. As noted above, the completion of the depot complex, seven years earlier, had provided the park with its first curatorial space outside of the two-story White Pass vault. During the mid-1980s, the curatorial area easily handled the objects assigned to it. The park, however, amassed thousands of new objects each year, primarily from archeological excavations, and by 1991 the park's curatorial collection numbered over 200,000 items. That summer, the archeological portion of the collection was moved from the cramped storage area in the depot complex to the new facility; the depot space was kept for the curation of artifacts that came from non-archeological sources. [111]

Museum cataloguing operations, which had been established in the depot during the mid-1980s, are still based at that location. Seasonal museum technicians, at first, entered new objects onto catalog cards. In 1987, however, the park obtained a computer for its museum work and began using the Automated National Catalog System format. Other recent highlights of the park's curatorial operation have included a rewriting of the Scope of Collections Statement, both in April 1988 and August 1992, and the hiring of Debra Sanders in October 1991 as the park's first Museum Specialist. [112]

The Park Exhibit Package Takes Shape

As shown in the 1981 interpretive prospectus, NPS planners during the early 1980s intended that the White Pass and Yukon Route depot would be the only NPS interpretive facility in Skagway. (The only other interpretation in the Skagway historic district would be various storefront displays, and a wayside exhibit at the Moore Cabin.) The theme of the depot exhibits, not surprisingly, was to be "the quest for gold." Given that direction, Bruce Geyman and Saul Shiffman of the agency's Harpers Ferry Center began design work in 1983 for a visitor center exhibit package. Their work was completed in January 1984 and sent to the region for review. Regional staff responded with comments, but activity on the project then lapsed. [113] Meanwhile, the impending opening of the depot to visitors demanded the creation of a temporary exhibit package, which consisted of the rebuilt canvas boat that had been displayed in the AB Hall, explanatory text to accompany it, and several large historic photos. Two years later, Harpers Ferry installed an additional series of temporary exhibits at the depot; these consisted of several free-standing, three-sided interpretive panels which, like the previous materials, were installed in the room located between the waiting room and the auditorium. [114]

In 1985, Lige B. (Ben) Miller of the Harpers Ferry Center staff became an exhibit planner for the depot project, and the following year, the project was reactivated. The center contracted with a Los Angeles landscape architecture firm, Rogow and Bernstein, which began creating exhibit models. [115] Then, on August 8, 1986, representatives from the contracting firm, Harpers Ferry Center, the regional office, and the park met in Skagway to discuss design concepts for permanent exhibits at the park. They predicted at the time that the exhibits would be produced during the 1988 fiscal year. Despite that prediction, however, there was a growing awareness among the meeting participants that the material to be interpreted was too massive to fit inside the depot buildings. It was also felt that some exhibits, such as a tavern scene, would be inappropriate in a former depot. [116]

By late November, agency officials had come to the realization that the Mascot Saloon as well as the depot would be needed to display all of the planned exhibits. In early March, Acting Regional Director Richard J. Stenmark concurred with the proposed changes. [117] In order to effectuate the proposed exhibit expansion, Ben Miller and Mitchell Zetlin of Harpers Ferry Center met in Skagway on March 15, 1987 with Regional Curator Jean Swearingen, Regional Historian Robert Spude, and Regional Chief of Interpretation Glenn Clark. Clay Alderson, Jay Cable, and Betsy Duncan-Clark of the park staff also participated. During the next five days, displays were planned for each of several rooms in the depot complex. For the Mascot Saloon, exhibits were proposed "that will depict a saloon setting of 1898-1900 [and] that will offer the visitor an insight into the city life of Skagway during this period." The Mascot layout was to include bar equipment and a general merchandise display. The group also discussed planned exhibits at the Moore House and the various lease buildings. In order to finance the exhibit redesign, $49,000 of Moore House exhibit funds was redirected to the Mascot project. [118]

Funding limitations during the next year prevented the development of exhibits beyond the sketch phase for either the depot or Mascot. [119] But in August 1988, Congress approved a $537,000 budget item to create the entire exhibit package, and Bill Brown of the Harpers Ferry staff came to Skagway to plan the exhibits for the Mascot Saloon. [120] Park officials were aware that the new exhibits would probably not be ready for the public until the summer of 1991. In the meantime, therefore, park staff installed an ad hoc exhibit in the newly-reconstructed display windows. The Harpers Ferry staff produced several poster-sized photo murals, with appropriate captions describing the uses of the building from its construction in 1898 to the present day. Superintendent Alderson noted that "the exhibit attracted many curious visitors who were surprised at how recently the building was near ruin." [121]

Key to the Mascot exhibit would be the acquisition of an authentic bar and back bar. Research into gold rush-era Skagway newspapers revealed that the Mascot Saloon, in 1901, had purchased these two items from the Brunswick-Balke-Collender Company of Chicago. The park contacted a company representative, who mentioned that a restorer of such materials, Joe Newell, owned a twin of what had once adorned the Mascot. (Newell hailed from Clay Center, Kansas; the bar and back bar had come from a tavern in his home state.) Soon afterward the agency purchased the furnishings, and in July 1989, Newell and his family brought it to Skagway. [122]

Harpers Ferry Center staff, along with officials at the regional and park level, worked on the depot and Mascot exhibit package during 1989. By March 1990, Harpers Ferry staff had completed their design work. In order to review their plans with regional and park staff, they arranged to meet in Skagway the following month. [123] The three-day meeting took place, as scheduled, beginning on April 10. Lisa A. Wolfe, who had become the project manager, led the meetings which, in turn, led to project design finalization soon afterward. By now, the time period for interpreting the Mascot Saloon had been changed from the 1898-1900 period to the 1905-1916 period. [124]

By year's end, the exhibits for the depot and the Mascot Saloon were in the final stages of production, and in Skagway, the park's day labor crew had installed the Mascot's bar, back bar and some of the other interior features. [125] In March 1991, Harpers Ferry let a contract to construct and install the completed exhibits. That contract was awarded, in May, to a Ramsey, New Jersey firm, Cornerstone Spatial Design and Production; Cornerstone, in turn, relied on subcontractors to complete the relief map, the mannequins, and the photo work. Some of the Mascot Saloon exhibits, including the mannequins, bar furniture, glassware, and the other furnishings in the barroom scene, were installed during the first week of June, several weeks prior to the dedication ceremony and open house. In mid-September the remaining exhibits arrived at the Mascot, and the new permanent exhibits were installed at the depot complex. To mark the arrival of the depot exhibits, more than seven years after the visitor center began operations, an open house for local residents was held on September 27, 1991. [126]

The arrival of the park exhibit package was a boon to the park's interpretive staff, who had been working with makeshift and temporary materials for the previous 15 tourist seasons. Since the visitor center's opening in 1984, the interpretive program--which had consisted of the half-hour version of the film Days of Adventure, Dreams of Gold, a walking tour, Steve Hites's musical slide program, an afternoon movie, a narrated evening program, and rangers roving up and down Broadway answering questions--had changed relatively little. The primary change during the past seven years had been the elimination of the slide show, after the 1987 season, and the addition of text to Days of Adventure, Dreams of Gold to aid the hearing impaired. An additional challenge emerged in 1986, when the interpretive specialist had to cope with a reduction in staff. That reduction forced the park to shorten the hours of the visitor center and to shift the evening program to the afternoon hours. [127] The depot and Mascot exhibit packages gave visitors many new opportunities to become familiar with Klondike gold rush history. The new demands placed upon park resources, moreover, demanded the hiring of two new seasonal interpreters. [128]

Itjen House Rehabilitation

As noted above, the Itjen House was moved in 1978 from Sixth Avenue to its present location, across Broadway from the railroad depot. It remained there, on cribbing, for the next several years. When park officials began considering potential uses for the building, they first felt that its optimal use would be as an interpretive site. In 1982, however, Paul Cloyd recommended that it become a visitor contact station for the City of Skagway. The building lay unused until the spring of 1986, when Congress provided startup rehabilitation funding for both the Mascot and Itjen buildings. That summer, the construction crew turned the building slightly so that it parallelled Broadway. Further work, however, was stalled for the time being, in part because an archeological survey that summer revealed what promised to be a rich gold rush-era artifact assemblage. NPS officials responded to the discovery by ordering another summer of archeological work, in 1987. [129]

In the late July 1989, the park day labor crew began working on the building again. The city, at the time, was expressing an active interest in leasing the house in order to use it as the Skagway Convention and Visitors Bureau's office and visitor information center. The agency, in response, obtained $262,000 from Congress for the project in the fiscal year 1990 budget. Officials hoped that the rehabilitation would be completed in late 1990 or early 1991. [130]

Inasmuch as work crews concentrated on the Mascot Saloon in 1989, the only substantial progress related to the Itjen building that year was the pouring of a foundation. In order to allow work to proceed, the construction crew moved the Itjen House a hundred feet to the south, to a site just south of the WP&YR tracks; later that summer, when the foundation was complete, the building was returned to its former site. Most of the remaining restoration work took place in 1990, and by year's end all that remained to be completed was the installation of the fire suppression system, interior wall and trim finish, and the completion of the historic wood floor. By February 1991, work crews were reported to be finishing up the house; the final touches were added in late April. [131] As the building neared completion, park officials prepared a Request For Proposals to lease the building at $15,500 per year. The Skagway City Council considered bidding on it, but instead it informed the park that it would use the Arctic Brotherhood Hall as its visitor center. The RFP was issued in March 1991 to 13 prospective bidders. When the bids were considered after the May 28 deadline, however, only one of the interested parties submitted a bid (for a 1908-era general store), and the NPS rejected that bid as unqualified. [132]

Superintendent Alderson, undaunted, still hoped that the house had leasing potential, and he vowed that he would commence a new bidding process. In November 1991, he expressed his hopes of issuing a new Request for Proposals in early 1992. By the end of the year, however, he had a change of heart. He noted that because of the continuing need for office space to accommodate project supervisor Mike Colyer, he requested permission to retain the building for park administrative use until suitable office space was available in the new maintenance building. [133] The building soon afterward became the park's construction office. The Congressional funding package that approved the maintenance facility, unfortunately, trimmed the proposed office that was to be part of that building. As a result, the Itjen House is still used by the park's construction supervisor. [134]

A Maintenance Facility is Constructed

In 1978, when the NPS began its construction work in the Skagway Historic District, Preservation Specialist Pete Bathurst set up an ad hoc workshop and tool storage area in the Peniel Mission garage. Two years later, architect Dave Snow chose the Pantheon Saloon as its construction and maintenance headquarters. [135] Because of that role, the Pantheon had been chosen as one of the last buildings to be rehabilitated. Park Service officials recognized, however, that the agency would eventually need to relocate its construction and maintenance functions to a non-historic building.

In early September 1986, Clay Alderson became the park's third superintendent. Within days after he arrived, the former laborer and trail crew foreman was interviewed by Jeff Brady of the Skagway News. The local scribe wrote that "after being in the park for one week, Alderson said it is obvious that the park needs to establish a central maintenance facility." He conducted a cursory search of available properties, and by the end of the year he had forwarded recommendations for several possible locations to the regional office. [136]

During 1987, Alderson decided that the best location for the facility would be the block between First and Second avenues and between Main and Alaska streets. The western (Alaska Street) half of the block was vacant land; half of those parcels were owned by Alascom, the other half by the Pacific and Arctic Railway and Navigation Company (the corporate name, in Alaska, for the White Pass & Yukon Route). Superintendent Alderson hoped to obtain the land by means of a land trade; he contacted the city regarding their purchase of the various vacant lots, hoping that the city would then swap them for the three NPS lots along Broadway, which were judged as "unneeded" and "surplus" by the agency. By the end of 1987, appraisals had been made of the various lots involved, and park officials were told that the exchange could be made "at very little cost to the government." In order to obtain construction funds, Alderson asked for the assistance of the Alaska Congressional delegation. He hoped that the maintenance facility could be built as soon as the Mascot Saloon rehabilitation work had been completed. [137]

In early 1988, however, cultural resources personnel let it be known that any exchange of Broadway lots would first require an archeological survey. The time and expense of such a survey convinced park officials to abandon the exchange idea. Based on that premise, funding for the maintenance facility received initial approval that summer. The U.S. Senate earmarked $917,000 for both land acquisition and building construction; the House, however, deleted all but the $110,000 needed for land acquisition. The startup funds gave the park a year to plan the facility and conduct archeological surveys. Plans, predicated on the approval of construction funds in the FY 1990 budget, called for the facility to be built beginning in October 1989. [138]

Newly-discovered concentrations of lead, however, delayed the land acquisition process. Since the 1960s, Skagway's waterfront ore terminal had been the site where huge volumes of lead-zinc ore were transferred from truck trailers or railroad cars to maritime carriers. During the summer of 1988, however, Skagway residents learned that certain portions of town contained potentially harmful concentrations of lead sulfide dust. A $6 million cleanup resulted in 1989-1990. The proposed maintenance site, located relatively close to the ore terminal, was one of the areas that was likely to require some mitigative action in order to meet National Environmental Policy Act acquisition requirements. Extensive soil tests, therefore, would be needed. [139]

In order to gain more information on possible lead contamination, the NPS in 1989 contracted with the U.S. Bureau of Mines for a soil survey of all property owned or proposed for ownership by the federal government. That report took several months to prepare. During the interim, Congress provided $863,000 to the park for facility construction. That funding, however, was temporarily jeopardized because of the delays brought about by the lead problem. The park, recognizing the delay, decided in the meantime to work on the Itjen House once Mascot Saloon construction was complete. The hoped-for maintenance facility groundbreaking was pushed back to 1991. [140]

The Bureau of Mines survey of the maintenance facility site revealed elevated lead levels. In its proposed mitigation plan, the agency determined that a so-called level II hazardous materials survey would be required. The NPS decided to fund the survey from the facility construction account; the survey was conducted by an environmental consulting firm, operating under the direction of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The surveying, which took place in November 1990, revealed that there were no serious contaminants in the soils and there would be no need for additional clean-up. The only corrective action needed was the removal of a small amount of asbestos from a garage furnace. (The garage was located on the property of local resident Phyllis Brown, who had purchased the block's Alascom properties in early 1990.) Based on the favorable report, NPS officials looked forward to acquiring six lots in early 1991. [141]

Most of 1991 was spent in purchase negotiations with the two landowners. The WP&YR signed an agreement to sell its three lots on August 6, and Phyllis Brown signed a similar agreement on January 20, 1992. The NPS, however, did not actually acquire the WP&YR lots until March 5, 1992; Phyllis Brown's lots were not acquired until April 13, 1993. [142]

The maintenance shop was designed beginning in the fall of 1992, and during mid-1993 the construction of the facility was put out for bid. In August the Holden Construction Company of Soldotna, Alaska, won the contract with a $1,023,133 bid. [143] The contractor broke ground for the building in October, and it was completed in late November 1994. In June 1995, NPS personnel finally moved equipment from the "temporary" Pantheon Saloon workshop--that had been used for 15 years--to the new facility. [144]

Recent Rehabilitation Projects

After the completion of the Mascot Saloon project in the summer of 1991, the National Park Service had rehabilitated eight buildings in the Skagway historic district. Of those eight, four had been leased back to the private sector; one was being used for interpretation; one was being used as the park headquarters and visitor center; and one was being used for park support purposes. A final rehabilitated building, the Mascot Saloon Complex, had three different uses: it was being used for interpretive purposes, it served park support purposes, and it was being leased to the private sector. Five buildings remained to be completed. Of those five, none had been improved since emergency stabilization efforts had been completed in the early 1980s.

NPS officials chose the Lynch and Kennedy store as the agency's next rehabilitation project. Archeological clearance on the two-story building was complete; test excavations had been performed by Dan Martin in 1978 and by Lee Stilson in 1986. Then, in early 1991, park officials were informed that Congress granted the agency $533,000 for phase I of the project. That fall, Congress approved another $676,000 for phase II, enough to complete the restoration work. [145] Given funds with which to operate, work began in March 1991. By the end of the year, the superintendent noted that the building was "about 50 percent complete;" finished projects included the fire suppression and detection system, the furnace, and all of the major structural rehabilitation. Work continued on the building throughout 1992, and that fall it was announced that the $1.3 million rehabilitation project would be completed in February 1993. [146]

NPS officials had long proposed that the Lynch and Kennedy store be leased back to the private sector, and in early 1993 the agency issued a Request for Proposals from potential bidders. The RFP, which had a deadline of March 8, demanded a far higher minimum bid than the previous Skagway leases; the higher bid was due both to the building's large size and to rising values of Skagway commercial properties. Despite the high minimum, the RFP attracted three proposals. NPS officials accepted the bid of Karl and Rosemary Klupar, who offered $45,000 per year for a ten-year contract. The Klupars began operating a gift shop in the old store during the summer of 1993. [147]

Work on the Peniel Mission began in the spring of 1993, as soon as restoration of the Lynch and Kennedy building was complete. During the summers of 1983, 1985, 1987, and again in 1988, archeologists carried out excavations of test pits in the yard surrounding the Peniel. Several test units were also placed underneath the building. [148] The Peniel, which NPS officials planned to use as quarters for seasonal employees, received $100,000 in planning funds from Congress in early 1991. In the fall of 1992, $923,000 in restoration funds were added to the NPS budget. That sum was sufficient to complete the rehabilitation project. [149]

NPS architects treated the Peniel Mission slightly differently than the other historic district structures. As noted in the "Ten Structures Report," former resident Clayton Polley had significantly modified the building in 1937. That modification, combined with its off-Broadway location and its intended use as employee quarters, had convinced architects to restore the building's exterior to its 1937 configuration. But by the early 1990s, architects had decided to change course, and they instead opted to modify the exterior to resemble its gold rush appearance. Officials also decided to move the building, which lay on the lot's eastern edge, five feet to the west. They did so in order to ease building maintenance and to head off potential conflicts with the adjacent property owner. [150]

The Peniel Mission construction project began during the spring of 1993. Work on the employee residence was the park labor crew's major project for the next two years. Seasonal employees during 1993 lived in rooms rented from the Westmark Hotel; the following year, they resided in a house rented from local resident Phyllis Brown. Construction, meanwhile, proceeded according to schedule. In the fall of 1993, the local press announced that the project was "about halfway done." [151] A year later, park officials confidently announced that the project work would be completed early the following spring. The crew completed its work (except for a few finishing touches) in April 1995, and seasonal employees occupied the building shortly afterward. The structure was dedicated at a May 21 ceremony. [152]

The Moore House, just south of the Peniel Mission, had served as an employee residence in 1980-81, and during the early 1980s the house had been proposed as one of the park's first rehabilitation projects. On the basis of that position on the priority list, Harpers Ferry Center staff had prepared a Historic Furnishings report for the house during 1984-85. In November 1985, Superintendent Sims announced that the Moore House would be one of the next two rehabilitation projects. Later managers, however, shuffled the building to a lower priority. In 1988, the house received additional consideration when Congress allotted $49,000 in exhibit funds; that money, however, was later diverted to the Mascot Saloon exhibit package.

The Moore House rehabilitation project was revived in 1993, and the Interior Department's fiscal year 1994 funding package, passed by the Senate in September 1993, included $1.015 million for Moore House work. The House of Representatives, however, deleted those funds, and the conference committee went along with the House's recommendation. By the time the project was resubmitted to Congress the following year, planning on the house was largely complete, so park officials were ready to act when, in the early fall of 1994, Congress approved $1.143 million for Moore House rehabilitation. [153] Restoration work on the Moore House began in early June 1995, with a scheduled completion date of mid-1997. Plans call for the house, once completed, to be furnished with exhibits from the gold rush era, using photographs from the period when the Bernard Moore family lived there.

The only other two NPS structures in the historic district that have not yet been rehabilitated are the Pantheon Saloon complex and the Goldberg Cigar Store. Officials submitted the two buildings as a single rehabilitation project; much of the funding for that project has already been approved. Archeological clearance, however, has not yet been completed at the Pantheon complex. A test excavation was performed there by Ray DePuydt in the summer of 1987, and further work took place during the summer of 1995. [154]

Officials plan to rehabilitate the Pantheon complex before work begins on the cigar store. The agency, as evidenced by the "Ten Structures Report," has long suspected that the southern half of the complex did not date from the gold rush period. When architects investigated the complex during the summer of 1994, however, those suspicions were confirmed. Staff now theorize that Fasel's Pioneer Paint and Wallpaper store, which occupied the site during the gold rush, was apparently razed during the 1930s, and an entirely new building was constructed during World War II. Given its lack of historical value, agency officials were left with the option of either retaining the building in its present form, demolishing it, or reconstructing the gold rush-era paint store based on documentary and photographic evidence.

They have tentatively chosen the third alternative. They plan to begin the combined rehabilitation and reconstruction in May 1997 and complete it in mid-1999. The first floor of the entire complex will be offered as a single leased property; whether the lessee will use all of the allotted space or sublease half to another party will be a decision left to the lessee. The top floor of the two buildings will be used for curatorial storage space. [155]

The Goldberg Cigar Store, constructed in 1897, has been a particular challenge to park officials. The rude, unpainted wooden building has been considered, over the years, as either a potential lease or as an interpretive vehicle. The building, however, is of poor quality; its shiplap siding inexplicably attracts rather than sheds rainwater, and portions of the siding have deteriorated to the point that the casual visitor can view the interior. These liabilities have limited the store's usefulness, and as noted earlier, two NPS historical architects have recommended its demolition. The building was saved only because John Cook, Alaska's Regional Director in 1981, overrode the architects' recommendations.

Robert Spude, the contract historian at the park during the late 1970s and the regional historian during the mid-1980s, was a strong advocate of the building's preservation. He recognized that the cigar store was the park's only example of an early gold rush building, and he fought to keep it as an interpretive vehicle for that period. Due largely at his insistence, a post-1897 rear addition of the building was removed in 1986. That same year, in order to make way for the crews rehabilitating the Boss Bakery, the building was taken from its location on the east side of Broadway and moved 100 feet to the southeast. In its new position, it was situated on the southwest side of the right-of-way of the old White Pass Trail. It has remained there, on blocks, ever since. For awhile, it was anticipated that the old store, along with one or more wall tents, would comprise a White Pass Trail wayside exhibit area. In the early 1990s, however, those plans were abandoned. Plans call for the building to be moved, either in 1996 or 1997, to the north side of Fifth Avenue just east of the Kirmse's curio store annex. The building will then be placed on pressure-treated wood footing; those timbers will lie on a gravel pad, raised to the height of the boardwalk. A plastic window will be placed in the door, allowing visitors to peek inside. The building's interior, however, will remain unfurnished and unadorned. [156]

gold rush-era buildings along Broadway

Pullen House
(top) When the park was established, many of the gold rush-era buildings along Broadway were deteriorating. By 1980, several park buildings had received new foundations and roofs, but they were unpainted and otherwise unrestored. This photo shows, from left to right, the Mascot Saloon Complex, Boas Tailor and Furrier, and Verbauwhede's Confectionery. (bottom) Deterioration set in at the Pullen House even before its 1959 closure. By the late 1970s, when NPS architects examined the building, rehabilitation was a practical impossibility. This photo was taken in 1983. The decaying hotel was razed in 1990. (KLGO SC #1121 (top); photo by author, KLGO SC #1493 (bottom) )

Arctic Brotherhood Hall

Boss Bakery building
(top) The Arctic Brotherhood Hall served as the park's visitor center from 1979 through 1983. This photo, looking north, shows Skagway Garden Club member Marcia Healy watering the flower boxes along the boardwalk. (bottom) The NPS construction crew began to rehabilitate the Boss Bakery building in the summer of 1985. It completed its work in 1986, and the building was leased in 1987. (Jeff Brady Collection (both photos) )

Cathy Blee, Marianne Musitelli

Ray DePuydt, Ann Mitelich-Warder, Alfred Cammisa
(top) NPS archeologists began working in the Skagway Historic District in 1978. Cathy Blee (right), shown here with Marianne Musitelli, worked in Skagway for six seasons. (bottom) The 1987 archeological crew, consisting of (l-r) Ray DePuydt, Ann Mitelich-Warder, and Alfred Cammisa, worked on an excavation near the Peniel Mission. (Skagway News, July 18, 1984, 3 (top); Kathleen McKay photo, KLGO SC #1892 (bottom) )

construction and maintenance crew
The construction and maintenance crew, responsible for rehabilitating the depot complex and maintaining the other park buildings, gathered in 1984 on the east side of the railroad administration building. Standing (l-r) are Walter (Buddy) Honan, Mike Colyer, John Warder, Gene Ervine, Si Dennis, Jr., Andy Beierly, Roy Nelson, and Don Corwin; those seated include Marcus Brooker, Tom Hixon, Mike Wild, Andy Robertson, Dave Snow, and Dave Hunz. (John Warder Collection)

railroad depot

White Pass and Yukon Route depot and administration building
(top) The National Park Foundation purchased the White Pass and Yukon Route's railroad depot and administration building in May 1972. In 1977, when this photo was taken, restoration had not yet begun. Work was completed in 1984; since then, the two buildings have served as the park's headquarters and visitor center. (bottom) The White Pass and Yukon Route depot and administration building, shown after the completion of its restoration. (Tom Busch photo, AKSO NHL SC (top); KLGO SC #2014 (bottom) )

Skaguay News Depot

Moore Cabin
(top) In June 1986, Jeff and Diane Brady signed a property lease for the Skaguay News Depot (Boas Tailor and Furrier building). Attending the ceremony are NPS Regional Director Boyd Evison (left) and Acting Superintendent Jay Cable (standing). (bottom) On July 5, 1987, the NPS held a dedication ceremony for the refurbished Moore Cabin. The ceremony was attended by a large crowd, including Jack and Georgette Kirmse (center), who had owned the house for decades prior to its acquisition by the Park Service. Supt. Clay Alderson stands at the right. (Skagway News, June 25, 1986, 2 (top); Alice Cyr photo, KLGO SC #1914 (bottom) )

Peniel Mission

visitor center exhibits
(top) The Peniel Mission, built in 1900, was purchased by the NPS in 1977. It has long been used as a residence for the park's seasonal interpreters. It was rehabilitated beginning in 1993 and was dedicated in a May 1995 ceremony. (bottom) The visitor center exhibits were completed and installed in 1991. They were photographed soon afterward. (Photo by author, KLGO SC #1452 (top); Jeff Brady Collection (bottom) )

Broadway walking tour
Since 1982, a centerpiece of the park's interpretive program has been the Broadway walking tour. In this photo, taken during the mid-1980s, longtime interpreter Alice Cyr leads a crowd over to the Arctic Brotherhood Hall. (Jeff Brady Collection)

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Last Updated: 24-Sep-2000