Preservation Magazine, Winter 2018

Building Teamwork Through Preservation in Sitka, Alaska

Fraser Hall in Sitka, Alaska.

photo by: James Poulson

Fraser Hall was restored as part of the Sitka Fine Arts Camp's Historic Restoration Internship Program.

Before beginning restoration work on the exterior of Fraser Hall in Sitka, Alaska, a group of preservation interns had to tackle their first task: building a 24-foot-tall scaffold on the 107-year-old building.

Fraser Hall, formerly part of Sheldon Jackson College, now holds dormitories and classrooms for Sitka Fine Arts Camp, which was founded in 1973 with the goal of providing arts education to Alaska youth from rural villages. Through the camp’s Historic Restoration Internship Program, around a dozen college students and recent graduates come to Sitka for a month each summer to learn the nuts and bolts of the historic-preservation trade. This past summer, the interns focused on the hall, which is located on a half-quad and surrounded by six buildings that also date from 1910–1911. They restored weather damage on the building’s west- and south-facing sides—replacing wooden shingles, refacing porch columns, and uncovering or replicating previously hidden or removed details, such as wooden trim and window casings.

“The biggest challenge is getting people to work together and erect a scaffold, and then carry on the details of the project,” says Larry Jackson, the crew leader for the internship program. “It’s not so much individual aspects as much as it is trying to build the teamwork that makes us be able to complete this project in one month, and do it safely.”

Katherine Flynn is a former assistant editor at Preservation magazine. She enjoys coffee, record stores, and uncovering the stories behind historic places.

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