Ten Most Endangered Historic Properties of 2012

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by Russ Slaten

The list for the Ten Most Endangered Historic Properties of 2012 was just released, and a log cabin in Anchorage is among them. The list from the Alaska Association for Historic Preservation is intended to bring awareness to the state's threatened historic properties.

Historic properties on the association's endangered list usually have relevance to tourism, economic development and the cultural heritage of Alaska. From the humble beginnings of one property owner, we see the result of their work in the community today.

This year's Ten Most Endangered Historic Properties list covers homes, schools, hospitals and stores around the state, but none more pressing than the Berg-Brown Cabin in Anchorage.

The cabin began as the home of one of Anchorage's first residents. Jack and Nellie Brown lived in the structure from the early 1920's until the 1930's, in which the Tummi family from Finland lived in it thereafter.

"There's so few buildings left that represent that early development and that early occupation of Anchorage. We feel that it's very important to try to find a way to preserve this building," said Elizabeth Grover, vice president of the Alaska Association for Historic Preservation.

The cabin saw wear and tear over the years and by 1980 was bought and used as a church by Robert Yahara, the pastor who established Bible Baptist Church. Yahara recently came back to visit the site and said the mission his church started is now seen in the actions of the Downtown Soup Kitchen.

"They were so moved and touched when they saw the new building. That's what they envisioned, something that would have all these different aspects, all under one roof, of feeding people and bringing them clothing and showers, and laundry," said Downtown Soup Kitchen Spokesperson Angelique Miller.

The issue with the site is new ownership. If the building is not moved, it may be lost forever.

"Anchorage is full of buildings that are more than 50 years old that have never been looked at for listing on the national register, and this is just one of them. And unfortunately, people don't think about it too hard until the building's in danger of being lost," said Grover.

For more information on the other historic properties added to this year's endangered list, go to the Alaska Association For Historic Preservation website.

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