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Visitors tour the recently restored fire hall located on the grounds of historic Fort William H. Seward in Haines, Alaska during an open house celebrating the completion of the the fire hall restoration.
After being absent from the historic Fort Seward skyline since approximately the 1930s, the 60-foot tower of the fort’s fire hall has been restored to its original height. The building and tower, built around 1904 in Haines, Alaska, was shortened to approximately half its height in the 1930s for unknown reasons. The restoration included rebuilding a missing 35-foot section of the 60-foot tower whose purpose was to dry fire hoses. The tower restoration was completed by building its four sections on the ground and then hoisting those sections with a crane into place on top of each other.
Through the years, the historic Fort Seward area, a former U.S. Army post, has been referred to as Fort William H. Seward, Chilkoot Barracks, and Port Chilkoot. The National Historic Landmarks listing record for the fort says that "Fort Seward was the last of 11 military posts established in Alaska during the territory's gold rushes between 1897 and 1904. Founded for the purpose of preserving law and order among the gold seekers, the fort also provided a U.S. military presence in Alaska during boundary disputes with Canada. The only active military post in Alaska between 1925 and 1940, the fort was closed at the end of World War II.”
The bottom portion of the fire hall is being leased as commercial space. Due to fire code restrictions there is no public access to the upper portion of the tower.
The fire hall was restored over a two-year period by owners Joanne Waterman and Phyllis Sage who also own the fort’s original guardhouse located next door to the fire hall. That building, now known as the Alaska Guardhouse, is a bed and breakfast.
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- © John L. Dengler
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