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Treadwell pump house receives grant toward restoration costs

Posted: June 5, 2013 - 9:36pm  |  Updated: June 6, 2013 - 12:22am
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Weathered pilings stand next to the Treadwell Mine Pump House on Wednesday. The Alaska Historical Commission authorized the Department of Natural Resources' State Historic Preservation Office to issue a grant to stabilize the iconic Juneau structure.  Michael Penn / Juneau Empire
Michael Penn / Juneau Empire
Weathered pilings stand next to the Treadwell Mine Pump House on Wednesday. The Alaska Historical Commission authorized the Department of Natural Resources' State Historic Preservation Office to issue a grant to stabilize the iconic Juneau structure.

Earlier this month the Alaska Historical Commission authorized the Department of Natural Resources’ State Historic Preservation Office to issue a grant to stabilize the Treadwell Mine Salt Water Pump House at Sandy Beach in Douglas.

The commission recommended that a grant for the requested $19,564.28 be given for the restoration of the historic pump house.

Funds would be used to protect the structure and its concrete base from further deterioration. It would also go to the removal and replacement of the roofing material while complying with the stringent historical preservation codes that are in place.

“We had a series of grants that we make available to municipalities who’ve been certified to receive grants for historic preservations,” Lt. Governor Mead Treadwell, chair of the commission, said.

“It’s seen by all the cruise ship traffic,” Treadwell said. “It’s going to fall down if it’s not fixed up.”

Over the years, requests from Juneau have been turned down. It was a selective process so not everyone that applies for a grant gets one.

This year, with a clearer scope for the project, the fund passed through the commission.

“We are fortunate that this is one of the projects that’s been given money,” said Barbara Propes, deputy chief of staff to Lt. Gov. Treadwell. “This is the amount they asked for.”

Built on the 600 foot Treadwell Wharf in 1914, the small pump house supplied salt water for milling operations while providing fire protection during the winter.

All that’s left of the wharf now are the surrounding pilings and pump house, though it was from there supplies from the mines were landed and gold bullion was shipped south.

In its heyday, the wharf welcomed ships of all kinds and still to this day mans its post as sentinel on Sandy Beach. But over the years its roof has deteriorated with parts of it blowing off during heavy storms.

Water entering through the top of the structure can deteriorate the older concrete within and when the water freezes it rusts the steel reinforcements, exacerbating the troubles.

“It’s just about ready to go,” Wayne Jensen, president of Jensen Yorba Lott Architects, said. Jensen has climbed up into the pump house to inspect it.

“The tops of the concrete walls are exposed. I’ve been in the building two or three different times,” Jensen said. “It takes a long ladder, but then when we get up to the top we can investigate there and that’s where we discovered the continuing, deteriorating condition.”

Some may consider the rehabilitation efforts as malicious and are afraid it will harm the appearance of the iconic structure, but Jensen said it wouldn’t differ from what’s already there.

“All we’re doing is putting the roof back on it. The outside appearance will stay the same. It’s a protective measure,” Jensen said.

The Treadwell Society will have a booth at Gold Rush Days with the Last Chance Mining Museum where they will continue to raise donations for the restoration efforts. There will also be a drawing of what’s going to be done to the structure for anyone who may still be concerned.

“I think it’s great,” Propes said. “I know I love walking on Sandy Beach and I’m glad that we can be apart of preserving it.”

• Contact reporter Kenneth Rosen at 523-2250 or at kenneth.rosen@juneauempire.com.

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