Sheldon Jackson School National Historic Landmark

Brown and white painted buildings around a grassy quad

NPS Photo

Quick Facts

Location:
Sitka, Alaska
Significance:
Sheldon Jackson School is significant for its role in Alaska Native cultural changes during the first half of the twentieth century.
Designation:
National Historic Landmark designated on August 7, 2001
OPEN TO PUBLIC:
Yes
MANAGED BY:
Sitka Fine Arts Camp


The Alaska Native Boarding School Experience

The Sheldon Jackson School is nationally significant for its role in the transformation of Alaska Native cultures, particularly those in Southeast Alaska, during the first half of the twentieth century. Through an emmersive English language education, students were taught skills other than those used in traditional Native occupations.

Alaska Native life was drastically changed by the forceful removal of students from their homes to the boarding school, and by the promotion of Euro-American culture on campus. The assembly of students from around the state turned the school into a forum for sharing ideas about the pursuit of legal rights for Alaska Natives and the formation of Alaska Native political organizations.


Architectural Highlights

The Sheldon Jackson School historic district includes seventeen contributing buildings, one contributing site, and three non-contributing buildings. The core of the district consists of six Craftsmen-style two story buildings: Stevenson Hall, North Pacific Hall, Richard H. Allen Memorial, Whitmore Hall, Fraser Hall, and the Power Plant and Laundry. These buildings are oriented around a central half-quadrangle. The Sheldon Jackson Museum and North Cottage were two pre-existing buildings that were incorporated into the 1910 campus and are contributing to the district. The Ceramics Building is directly behind North Pacific Hall. There are four contributing buildings (including North Cottage) on the west end of campus and three contributing cottages on the east end of campus. The Sage and Sawmill buildings are located on the lower southeast end of the district near the water.

All of the main campus buildings of the Sheldon Jackson School possess a cohesive Craftsman and Western Stick influence, with their form, fenestration, and detailing being the most distinguishing features. The architects integrated eclectic elements of both of these styles with the rustic surroundings and the formal campus plan. The characteristic Western Stick elements present in Sheldon Jackson School’s principal buildings include protruding roof brackets, projecting balconies and porches, recessed entries, and wood shingle siding. Additional Accents like wood vents, porch detailing, and accentuated vertical timbers emphasized the hidden structural elements of the buildings. Many of the buildings were originally painted or stained white, today they are brown, known as “Sheldon Jackson brown,” with white trim.


Additional Information

Library of Congress, Historic American Buildings Survey -  Photos and Drawings

National Register of Historic Places - Official Nomination Form

The Sheldon Jackson Museum

Sitka's National Historic Landmarks: A Window into Alaska's Past

More National Historic Landmarks in Alaska

Last updated: March 8, 2018