Rotting Davis Log Cabin faces demolition this week

Fuel oil tank upgrades planned near replica cabin

Posted: Monday, June 10, 2002

The Davis Log Cabin in downtown Juneau is slated for demolition this week, a victim of rotting logs and fuel oil tank improvements.

The state, which owns the structure and the site, has hired a contractor to remove the cabin and upgrade a nearby underground fuel tank. The city had been leasing the cabin and the Juneau Assembly agreed to the plans last month.

The subject of countless photographs and a source of visitor information for years, the replica cabin was built in 1981 as part of Juneau's centennial celebration. It has been vacant since last fall when Juneau Convention and Visitors Bureau staff moved to Centennial Hall.

The demolition is connected to state plans to replace a nearby fuel storage tank that served the Dimond Courthouse and had been leaking. The state Department of Administration is upgrading fuel storage for Juneau's state office buildings as time and funds allow, according to Chris Parce, General Services Division director for the department.

"We're upgrading our tanks and had to dig it up," she said. "The second main reason is the building is too expensive to fix. ... We didn't want to make it unstable."

City workers were removing plants in front of the cabin today and the state has set up an alternate fuel supply line to the Dimond Courthouse. At the city's recommendation, the state plans to turn the site into a pocket park when the work is complete, Parce said.

The cabin logs had been rotting from the inside out since the structure was built, and a city report in January said the wood was crumbling off in large chunks.

A 1991 city report pointed out that the cabin would have to be demolished eventually if actions weren't taken to repair and maintain it.

"The building has substantial rot in it and cannot be easily repaired. It would really have to be replaced at great cost," city Lands and Resources Manager Steve Gilbertson said. "This saves the city money ... and the state does it as a part of their cleanup project. And it makes the state job much easier for replacing their tanks and cleaning up any soil they need to."

The city's Downtown Revitalization Committee recommended in January that the log cabin be torn down and the site be turned into a pocket park. The city report estimated cabin replacement could cost between $250,000 and $450,000.

Juneau's centennial inspired what was then called the Juneau-Douglas Community College and other local groups to build the replica cabin.

The Juneau Convention and Visitors Bureau used the building for almost 15 years before moving to Centennial Hall. In addition to the building's structural problems, the JCVB noted the cabin didn't have rest rooms or public phones and wasn't handicapped accessible.

The original cabin was built in 1881 and was torn down in 1914 after it was used as a carpentry shop, Juneau's first public school, a Presbyterian church and the City Brewery-Log Cabin Soda Works office, according to the Juneau-Douglas City Museum. The cabin is named after a pioneer family.

Parce of the state General Services Division said the demolition should cost approximately $10,000. Once the work is finished, the state will seed the lawn and the city will landscape and maintain the park, she said.

Hart Crowser Inc. of Anchorage is the contractor on the project with subcontractor Gastineau Contractors of Juneau.

Joanna Markell can be reached at

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