City and Borough of Juneau
155 S. Seward Street
Juneau, Alaska 99801
tel. 907-586-5240
fax 907-586-5385

Historic Preservation in Juneau

Preservation Opportunities

Following is a list and short description of opportunities in the community which can play an important role in accomplishing the overall preservation goals identified in the preservation plan. See Appendix G for national, state, and local historic resources of information and programs.

Abandoned Shipwreck Act of 1987 - This public law recognizes the value of shipwreck sites and gives individual states the tools and incentive to take charge of shipwrecks in their coastal waters. The Alaska Historic Preservation Act sets forth protection legislation for historic shipwrecks and sites associated with them.

CBJ Tax Incentive: The CBJ has adopted a tax assessment forgiveness program to foster rehabilitation, remodeling, repairing of historic structures with a preservation focus. The program allows up to $20,000 of tax assessment forgiveness for up to 4 years for work done that preserves the original architectural character of the building.

Certified Local Government (CLG): The National Historic Preservation Act established the CLG program to assist local governments in establishing and developing local historic preservation programs. Once certified, a CLG is eligible to apply for matching grant funds. The program is administered by the Office of History and Archaeology (OHA) in conjunction with the Alaska Historic Commission. The funds may be used to survey and inventory historic and prehistoric sites, conduct planning activities, prepare National Register of Historic Places nominations, develop heritage education projects, prepare architectural plans, establish pre-development specifications, prepare historic structures reports and engineering studies, restore historic structures, and provide staff support for local historical commissions.

Juneau has been a CLG since 1988 and has benefited greatly from the program over the years. Since 1980 the CBJ has received over $185,000 in historic preservation matching grants from the National Park Service/Alaska Office of History and Archaeology. These funds were matched with a combination of Community Development Department Staff in-kind services, volunteer labor, donated materials and donated equipment.

Downtown Historic District Standards: The Downtown Historic District is the only district in Juneau that has design standards for development projects within the district. These standards are intended to preserve the historic architecture and fabric of the historic downtown commercial district.

Gastineau Channel Historical Society: The Society goals are to instill interest in and preserve the history of the community. The Society operates the Last Chance Mining Museum, provides support for the Juneau-Douglas City Museum, provides volunteer labor for preservation projects, and dispenses information about local history through a quarterly newsletter and publications.

Heritage Tourism: While some impacts of heritage tourism can be negative to historic and cultural resources, the opposite effect can take place if development is done sensitively and with adequate planning. The economic impact of tourism can be channeled into critically needed preservation if done in a way so as not to obscure the historic value of the resource.

An example of this in Juneau is the Last Chance Mining Museum which is operated by the non-profit organization Gastineau Channel Historical Society. The agreement with the CBJ, owner of the property, is to set aside a percentage of the net proceeds of operations for historic preservation and interpretive projects at the Jualpa Mine Camp Historic District.

Historic Resources Advisory Committee (HRAC): The HRAC is a committee established by the CBJ Assembly to oversee the historic resources of the community. An informed and active committee can make a difference in the community when decisions are made relative to impacts to historic resources. The duties of the HRAC are to review and make recommendations about local projects that might affect properties identified in the local historic preservation plan and to review and develop nominations to the National Register of Historic Places. The Committee cooperates and consults with the Assembly, Planning Commission, the Design Review Board, and the Alaska State Historic Preservation Officer on matters concerning historic resources. Additionally, the Committee is the logical focus group to implement the Historic Preservation Plan once it is adopted.

Juneau-Douglas City Museum: The City Museum provides the community and its visitors with exhibits and materials which document the cultures and history of the Juneau Douglas area. It is a valuable resource in the education of the community, especially the younger generations, to the value of history and historic preservation.

Last Chance Mining Museum: The Mining Museum was established in 1976 as Juneau’s American Bicentennial project. It provides the community and its visitors with exhibits and materials which document the gold mining history of the Juneau area. The Mining Museum was operated from 1976 to 1982 by the CBJ and was re-opened in 1995 by the Gastineau Channel Historical Society.

Local Cultural Groups: The local Native Alaskan groups, Filipino Community, Sons of Norway, and other ethnic groups work to keep their heritage alive. These groups should be encouraged and assisted where possible in preserving their unique traditions to culturally enrich the entire community.

Modern Technology: There is much that modern technology can provide in the preservation process. Interactive computer programs and interactive exhibits can offer a wealth of information in a format that is easy and fun to use thus encouraging younger generations to participate and learn. Computer data bases can maintain accurate records and assist in monitoring preservation efforts. Video recorders can document dancing, story telling, and other activities of Native and other ethnic communities for future generations. The Internet provides a massive communication tool for education.

National Legislation: Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act requires federal agencies to consider the impacts to cultural resources if they are determined eligible to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places. This process provides a method to review proposed projects so that detrimental impacts may be avoided. If avoidance is not possible then mitigation for the loss of the resource is undertaken. Lacking a local review process, the Section 106 requirement at a minimum provides for the potential impact by federal activities.

Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA): The effects and opportunities of the NAGPRA legislation are not yet fully realized. The primary purpose of the law is to return traditional artifacts to the communities where they originated. Not all Native artifacts qualify for repatriation but those with spiritual significance and connected with burial practices are specifically identified. These may well be the most important items to be returned to the community as they tend to be the basis of the culture and will help to pass the traditional ways on to the younger generations. The NAGPRA legislation offers a unique opportunity for the Native peoples of Juneau to recover important artifacts to the community.

The prospect of the return of cultural materials to the Natives of Juneau has sparked much discussion on how these artifacts will be handled. This discussion and the ultimate repository for the materials will raise the conscience of the Native community and others to the importance of historic preservation.

Sealaska Heritage Foundation: As a regional repository for cultural information of the Native community the Foundation is a valuable resource. The Foundation supports traditional story telling (Naa Kahidi Theater) and research of regional Tlingit culture. The Foundation receives funding from the Sealaska Corporation in addition to federal funding for education and NAGPRA preparation.

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