It is official… the Kolmakovsky Blockhouse has returned to the UAMN. With little fanfare and only about 5 hours in labor, the little octagonal log structure that stood along the banks of the middle Kuskokwim River for 87 years is once again reassembled and structurally sound.
For now, the building sits “topless” as our log preservation specialist, Sandy Jamieson (also known for his witty artwork) designs a weatherproofing membrane and creates a substrate for our newly installed tundra moss “sod” covering. In the next few weeks the work on the roof should continue and we’ll get the whole thing placed back on top of the building.
This two-year rehabilitation and conservation project is funded through a Save America’s Treasures grant managed by the Institute of Museum and Library Services . It includes funding to preserve the Kolmakovsky Redoubt collection at the University of Alaska Museum of the North. This involves the rehabilitation work on the 170-year-old blockhouse constructed by representatives of the Russian-American Company on the south bank of the Kuskokwim in 1841, as well as rehousing and photographing the 5,000-object archaeological collection excavated by Wendell Oswalt in the late 1960s.
The full project description and lots of photos are posted at my Museum departmental project page, so if you’re interested, take a look at what we’ve accomplished so far. More photos of the archaeological collections are forthcoming, and of course, a final paper documenting the entire project will be in the works, hopefully to be published by an Alaskan anthropology or museum journal.