Summertime Brings More Work on Erskine House



Don Corwin of Skagway works to repair the awning at Kodiak’s Erskine House. Brianna Gibbs photo

Brianna Gibbs/KMXT

The historic building that houses Kodiak’s Baranov Museum is undergoing yet another summer of renovations. KMXT’s Brianna Gibbs has more.

In other museum renovation news, the city council approved funding to repair the rock wall outside the museum during last week’s regular meeting.

The Erskine House, more commonly known and referred to as the Baranov Museum, sure has seen its share of history. The building is the oldest continually occupied building in Alaska and survived the 1964 earthquake and tsunami.

As one might imagine, decades of Kodiak’s at times unforgivable weather can definitely take a toll on a building. But making repairs to a treasure like the Baranov Museum becomes a balancing act between making needed improvements and maintaining the authenticity of such a historic building.

For the last four years, the museum has sought out the expertise of Don Corwin, a historic preservation specialist from Skagway who has travelled throughout Alaska renovating historic buildings. Corwin is a window and door expert and uses specific guidelines set by the National Park Service when making repairs to old buildings.

(Baranov Renovation 1: :44 sec "The national park…maintenance system.")

Corwin said part of the guidelines call for reusing as much of the original material as possible and simply cleaning it up and reinstalling it. If a new piece of material is needed, Corwin said he tries as hard as possible to find the same type of materials that were used in the original construction.

(Baranov Renovation 2: :37sec "In the case of the Irskin House…In Kind.")

This summer, Corwin finished repairing window panes on the sun porch of the museum.

(Baranov Renovation 3: :16 sec "This right here…It’s a pretty big undertaking.")

Museum Director Katie Oliver said the museum often gathers some unlikely artifacts when the building undergoes renovation.

(Baranov Renovation 4: :47 sec "We have a special collection…made it to Kodiak.")

When asked if there were any plans to leave behind some 2011-era items, Oliver said Corwin has hinted that there may be some treasures for future museum directors to discover within the walls.

(Baranov Renovation 5: :17 sec "He indicated that…work we’re doing now, too.")

Baranov Museum is one of the most amazing buildings in the state and the fact that it remains standing is a true testament to a community that takes pride in its history.

I’m Brianna Gibbs.


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