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● OFFICE OF HISTORY AND ARCHAEOLOGY - SHORT REPORT 2010-04 ●

Determination of Eligibility for the Alaska State Centennial


Museum (Alaska State Museum), Juneau
AHRS Site Number: JUN-1124

Prepared by
Summer Rickman and Emily S. A. Lochart
November 2010

OFFICE OF HISTORY AND ARCHAEOLOGY


ALASKA DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES
● OFFICE OF HISTORY AND ARCHAEOLOGY - SHORT REPORT 2010-04 ●

Acknowledgements

Several people helped with this project and deserve recognition. Steve Henrikson, Curator of
Collections, and other staff at the Alaska State Museum assisted with research for this project. Addison
Field, Curator of Collections and Exhibits at the Juneau-Douglas City Museum located historic
photographs for the report. Steve Forrest, the architect who designed the Alaska State Museum provided
invaluable memories and information about the museum building. Nicole Tozzi assisted with some of the
maps and images used in this report.

The cover image was reproduced from Alaska’s Digital Archives, Don Steffa Photograph
Collection, ca. 1958-1977, ASL-P283-2-468 (www.vilda.alaska.edu).

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Alaska State Centennial Museum

Eligible __X__ Not Eligible _____

A. Name of Property
Historic Name: Alaska State Centennial Museum
Other Name: Alaska State Museum
AHRS Number: JUN-1124

B. Location
Map Sheet: USGS Juneau (B-2)
Acreage: Approx. 0.64 acres
Address: 395 Whittier Street; Juneau, AK 99801
C. Description
Ownership of Property: State of Alaska
Category of Property: Building
Properties Function: Recreation and Culture: Museum
Architectural Classification: New Formalism/Brutalism
Materials: Foundation: Reinforced Concrete
Walls: Precast reinforced concrete panels
Roof: EPDM system

D. Applicable National Register Criteria


Criterion A: Yes
Criterion B: No
Criterion C: Yes
Criterion D: No
Applicable National Register Criteria Considerations
Criteria Consideration A: No
Criteria Consideration B: No
Criteria Consideration C: No
Criteria Consideration D: No
Criteria Consideration E: No
Criteria Consideration F: No
Criteria Consideration G: Yes
Area of Significance: Architecture, Community Planning and Development,
Entertainment/Recreation, Other: State Purchase Centennial
Celebration
Significant Dates: 1967-1968
Period of Significance: 1967-1968
Significant Persons: N/A
Cultural Affiliation: N/A
Architect/Engineer/Builder: Linn A. Forrest Architects, AIA (Steve Forrest and Linn
A. Forrest, Sr.; Triplette Construction Company

E. Form Prepared By:


Name/Title: Summer Rickman, Architectural Historian
Emily S. A. Lochart, Historian
Organization: Alaska Office of History and Archaeology
Date: November 29, 2010

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Introduction
The Office of History and Archaeology researched and assessed the historic significance
of the Alaska State Centennial Museum (JUN-1124) located at 395 Whittier Street in Juneau, in
Lots 4, 5, 6, and 10 of Block 66 in the Tidelands Subdivision. The property is in the Copper
River Meridian, Section 23, Township 41S, Range 67E. The purpose of this study is to provide
the Department of Natural Resources and the Alaska Historical Commission (AHC) information
to make a determination of eligibility as an historic property. Because Alaska Historic
Landmark Criteria have not been officially adopted, this study uses National Register of Historic
Places Criteria.
Early preservation legislation in the United States includes the Antiquities Act in 1906
and the Historic Sites Act of 1935. In 1966, the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) was
passed. The NHPA was a reaction to a nationwide urban renewal movement that was resulting
in the widespread demolition of older, blighted neighborhoods. This act recognized that historic
resources represent the heritage of our nation and “should be preserved as a living part of our
community life and development in order to give a sense of orientation to the American people.”
Under the NHPA, the National Park Service was to expand and maintain the list of properties
established by the Historic Sites Act. Named the National Register of Historic Places, it is the
official list of properties of local, state, and national significance. The State of Alaska
established a state Historic Preservation Act in 1971 stating, “It is the policy of the state to
preserve and protect the historic, prehistoric, and archaeological resources of Alaska from loss,
desecration, and destruction so that the scientific, historic, and cultural heritage embodied in
these resources may pass undiminished to future generations.”
A determination of eligibility is the process of gathering documentation to evaluate the
historic significance of a property by applying the criteria established for the National Register of
Historic Places. A determination of eligibility assesses the historic significance of a property and
should be an evaluation independent of any proposed projects. The Office of History and
Archaeology recommends the Alaska State Centennial Museum eligible for listing in the
National Register of Historic Places.

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Figure 1. Approximate location of Alaska State Centennial Museum in Juneau.

Alaska Purchase Centennial Celebration


Prior to the United States’ purchase of Alaska in 1867, the Gastineau Channel region was
a traditional fishing area for Auke and Taku Tlingits. In 1880, Joe Juneau and Richard Harris
reported their discovery of gold along Gold Creek and the Silver Bow Basin. Prospectors rushed
to the region. The new mining community, first called Harrisburg, then Rockwell, was named
Juneau at a miner’s meeting in December 1881.1
Juneau quickly transformed into a town and for a short while had a military post to keep
law and order. The downtown district grew with general stores, a bakery, saloons, a blacksmith
shop, and a post office on newly laid out streets.2 The neighborhood currently called Telephone
Hill was settled, followed by Starr Hill and Chicken Ridge on the hillside. A Native village

1
Arthur C. Spencer, The Juneau Gold Belt, Alaska, U.S. Geological Survey Bulletin No. 287 (Washington, D.C.:
U.S. Government Printing Office, 1906), 2-3.
2
R. N. DeArmond, The Founding of Juneau, Juneau: Gastineau Channel Centennial Association, 1980), 85-86, 90-
92.

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(Juneau Indian Village or Auke Village) was established on the waterfront near the present
Willoughby Avenue.3 Early placer mining transitioned to large lode gold mining operations with
stamp mills. Mining continued in the area and contributed to the steady growth of the
community. At least seven mines were actively producing gold in the Juneau and Douglas area
by 1903.4
Government offices began relocating from Sitka to Juneau as the mining town grew. In
1900, the city was incorporated. That same year, the District Court moved to Juneau and
Congress designated it the temporary seat of government for Alaska. The capital completed its
transfer from Sitka to Juneau by 1906 and Alaska was given Territorial status in 1912. Mining
and government helped Juneau thrive. Major mining halted during World War II due to labor
shortages and mining restrictions. Mining did not resume, but government expanded especially
after Alaska became a state in 1959.5
In the 1930s, the United States Government began using Femmer’s Dock with the
owner’s permission to reach a government float. The dock was located off Willoughby Avenue
about 200 yards west of Main Street. At the time, Willoughby Avenue was a planked street built
on pilings located at the high tide line. David Femmer signed deeds of easement with the
Federal Government at the start of World War II. In August 1942, the local newspaper
announced that the government took possession of the dock citing national security and the need
to build a sub port of embarkation. The military took waste rock from the Alaska Juneau Gold
Mine and filled in the tidelands surrounding the dock, forming the area of Juneau now referred to
as the “Subport” or “Tidelands” neighborhood. As needed, portions of this neighborhood were
subsequently filled with additional waste rock.6
Alaska was admitted as the 49th state in 1959. At the time, few communities in Alaska
had public and civic buildings. Most buildings used by state agencies in Juneau were leased.
Although still the capital, Juneau was no longer the largest city in Alaska. The population center
was moving out of Southeast to Southcentral Alaska. In the 1960 U.S. Census the Juneau
Borough had 9,745 residents and Anchorage had 82,833.

3
City and Borough of Juneau (CBJ), “Report of the Casey-Shattuck Neighborhood Historic Building Survey: From
Dairy Farm to Neighborhood” (Juneau: CBJ, 2004), p.14.
4
Spencer, 3.
5
CBJ, Report of the Casey-Shattuck Neighborhood, 15.
6
Margaret Femmer Cudney, “David Benjamin Femmer” in Gastineau Channel Memories, 1880-1959 (Juneau:
Pioneer Book Committee, 2001), p. 152-153.

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Figure 2. Aerial view of Juneau in 1940 before the tidelands were filled
with waste rock. Image reproduced from the Juneau-Douglas City
Museum, JDCM 2003.48.001.

During discussions of statehood, there was some debate about the location of the capital
city. Voters in the 1960 general election turned down an initiative to move the capital to the
Cook Inlet or Railbelt region. In 1962, citizens turned down another initiative to move the
capital to western Alaska. Juneau residents were still nervous about losing their status as the state
capital.7
At this same time, Alaskans began planning celebrations to mark the centennial of the
United States’ purchase of Alaska. The Governors’ Advisory Centennial Committee formed as
early as 1962 to organize statewide events. This committee was renamed the Alaska Purchase
Centennial Commission and was formally established in 1963 in the Department of Economic
Development and Planning.8

7
Dermot Cole, North to the Future: The Alaska Story, 1959-2009 (Kenmore, WA: Epicenter Press, 2008), 69-71,
211.
8
Gastineau Centennial Association, Inc., Memorandum to William A. Egan, Governor of Alaska, “Synopsis of
Progress for the Proposed State Museum Building,” N.D., copy on file at Alaska State Museum Archives, File
“Centennial Museum Project History 1965-1968; U.S. Department of Commerce, Federal Participation Alaska
Purchase Centennial Celebration 1967 (U.S. Department of Commerce, 1968), 1.

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The U.S. Department of Commerce studied the possibility of providing federal funds for
Alaska Purchase Centennial projects in September 1964 at the request of the state’s
congressional delegation.9 The delegation saw the opportunity to obtain federal funds to develop
much needed civic amenities and community buildings throughout Alaska. On September 24,
1964, Public Law 88-610 was passed stating that “...the Congress hereby recognizes the Alaska
Centennial Celebration...not only as an observance by the people of the forty-ninth state, but as
an event of national significance.”10 Federal funding for centennial celebration projects was
secured in Public Laws 89-375 and 89-426. These acts provided approximately $4 million
dollars in matching grants for projects statewide and an additional $600,000 for expositions and
ceremonies. In order for a project to receive federal funding, it needed to demonstrate that the
Centennial was an event of national interest. The intention of these projects and events was to
permanently contribute to Alaska’s economy throughout the state. 11 The Alaska Purchase
Centennial Commission reviewed project proposals for federal assistance. A total of 42 projects
were approved for federal funding.12
At the center of statewide celebrations was the “Alaska-67 Exposition” (“A-67”) in
Fairbanks. The Alaska State Centennial Museum received the third largest allocation of funds.13
Centennial projects were throughout Alaska and included Native cultural exhibits, natural and
cultural history museums, historic site restoration, performing arts facilities, gold mining
attractions, community and youth centers, tourism centers, campgrounds and picnic areas, roads,
a medical clinic, and monuments.14
Many Alaskan communities formed local committees to organize fundraisers and sponsor
local projects. The Gastineau Channel Centennial Committee (GCCC) was organized in
December 1963 as the local commission for the Juneau area.15 Juneau staged numerous
celebratory fundraisers and events. The Juneau Rotary Club and the GCCC began the 1967
Centennial year hosting a “Kick-off Ball” aboard one of the ferries on New Year’s Eve. The

9
Keith Hogan, Notes and timeline pertaining to early history of the Alaska State Museum, Copy on file at Alaska
State Library Collections, Gastineau Channel Centennial Association Records, MS4 Bx 3, Projects 1964-84.
10
U.S. Dept of Commerce (US DOC), Federal Participation Alaska Purchase Centennial Celebration 1967, US
DOC, 1968, 38.
11
Ibid., 2, 39.
12
Ibid., 5-7.
13
Ibid., 8-10, 41.
14
Ibid., 10-21.
15
Gastineau Centennial Assoc., Inc., “Synopsis of Progress for the Proposed State Museum Building.”

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Juneau Lions Club held a Centennial Homecoming between July 30 and August 5, 1967.16
Centennial medallions that were cast in bronze with an image of William H. Seward on the
obverse and the Centennial seal on the reverse were sold as keepsakes for $5 to raise money for
Centennial projects.17 The GCCC also sold sterling silver commemorative potlatch spoons,
designed by Amos Wallace with the Raven totem and the Centennial seal.18 A poster contest
was held in which the participants had to match paintings to the correct artists in order to win a
set of Centennial Medallions.19
The GCCC sponsored some projects intended to be permanent fixtures in the community.
The committee had two totem poles carved and presented to the community and they published a
history book, The Founding of Juneau, written by Robert N. DeArmond.20 Many communities
in Alaska had one large project or exhibit in addition to the locally sponsored initiatives. Juneau
saw tourism as a growing industry in the 1960s, especially after the arrival of the first Alaska
Marine Highway ferry in February 1963.21 Juneau’s signature Centennial project was
construction of the new Alaska State Centennial Museum to benefit residents and capitalize on
its place as a tourist destination. When the GCCC submitted their plans to the State Centennial
Commission, “they went on record to have as their major project the raising of funds to promote
the building of a new state museum and historical library.”22

History of the Alaska State Centennial Museum (JUN-1124)


Construction of an Alaska Historical Library and Museum was authorized by an Act of
Congress on June 6, 1900. It was envisioned as a center for Alaska’s residents and visitors. In
1906, the capital completed its move from Sitka to Juneau and with it the Museum and Library
collections, some of which were housed in the new Governor’s residence and office. In 1920,
the museum got its own home and was finally opened to the public. The museum was in space
rented at the old Arctic Brotherhood Hall. Within three years, the museum was on the move
again, finding its new home in a storefront at Third and Seward Streets. By 1931, the museum

16
“President Lyndon B. Johnson Invited to Centennial Kick-Off by Gastineau Channel Committee,” Juneau Alaska
Empire (JAE), 21 April 1966, p. 6.
17
Ibid.; Photo caption, JAE, 20, January 1966, p. 5.
18
“Centennial Spoons Ready Soon,” JAE, 27 April 1966, p. 3.
19
“Centennial Committee Meets Friday Noon; Poster Winners Named,” JAE, 10 August 1966, p.12
20
“Centennial Committee Meets Friday Noon; Poster Winner Named,” JAE, 10 August 1966, p. 12.
21
Cole, North to the Future, p. 64.
22
Gastineau Centennial Assoc., Inc., “Synopsis of Progress for the Proposed State Museum Building.”

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had outgrown its storefront location and moved to the second floor of the Territorial and Federal
Building. It remained in this location for the next 30 years.23
In October 1962, the Governors’ Advisory Centennial Committee (renamed the Alaska
State Centennial Commission) held its first meeting proposing that a new state building be
erected to house the Alaska Historical Library and Museum with the intent that this building be a
“lasting and appropriate contribution to [the] Centennial year.”24 By December 1963 the GCCC
stated that their major Centennial project was to raise funds for construction of a new state
museum.25 The GCCC stated that a museum was the “most worthwhile contribution this
committee could make to the state during the Centennial.”26 In September 1964 the State
Centennial Commission went on record to recommend to the Governor the building of a new
state museum to be completed by the Centennial year of 1967. 27
In February 1965 the firm of Linn A. Forrest Architects, AIA, provided a prospectus for
the Alaska State Centennial Museum. The prospectus was sent to the Alaska Congressional
delegation in Washington, D.C. to assist in the effort to seek federal participation in the
Centennial celebration. By April of that year, John Orchard, Special Assistant to the Director of
U.S. Department of Commerce conducted a staff study and provided the recommendation that:

“… In Juneau, there is an acute need for a State museum. The shell of this building could
probably be erected in time for housing exhibits in 1967. A permanent museum in
Juneau not only would be an impressive cultural improvement for the city, but would also
be an attraction for visitors and tourist during and after 1967….”28

Linn A. Forrest Architects, AIA was hired the last week of April 1966 to design the new
Centennial Museum to be located on land donated by the City of Juneau in the Subport area.29

23
Alaska State Museum, “A Century of Collecting,” Alaska State Museum Review, No. 5 (2000).
24
Gastineau Centennial Assoc., Inc. “Synopsis of Progress for the Proposed State Museum Building.”
25
Ibid.
26
“Design Contract for Museum is Agreed Upon” JAE, 1 May 1966, p. 10.
27
Gastineau Centennial Assoc., Inc., “Synopsis of Progress for the Proposed State Museum Building.”
28
Ibid.
29
“Design Contract for Museum is Agreed Upon” 1 May 1966, p. 10.

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Figure 3. Image reproduced from Juneau Alaska Empire, August 14, 1966, p.2

In June 1966 the GCCC requested a consumer 1% sales tax to help pay for the
Museum.30 A special tax election was set for August 16, 1966. The tax was to be levied and
collected only during the 1967 Centennial Year when the increased number of tourists were
expected to provide a large portion of the year’s revenue.31 It was noted by many that if the tax
vote did not pass the city would lose the $613,000 in federal matching funds and likely the
museum itself. Juneau citizens were still concerned about recent efforts to relocate the capital
and feared the repercussions of not capitalizing on this opportunity. State Senator Richard Peter
noted that both Anchorage and Fairbanks were eager to take the project if Juneau lost it.32
Mildred Banfield, Chairman of the GCCC and member of the Alaska Purchase Centennial
Commission noted that the centennial “is an event of great national importance” and that it was
Juneau’s time to decide “not where the Capital shall be, but what kind of capital Alaska shall
have.”33

30
“Centennial Group Asks for Sales Tax to Help Pay for Museum,” JAE, 2 June 1966.
31
“Borough Museum Election Tuesday,” JAE, 15 August 1966, p. 1.
32
“Museum Sales Tax Gets Boost From Sen. Peter,” JAE, 10 August 1966, p. 1.
33
Mildred Banfield, “Guest Editorial,” JAE, 15 August 1966, p. 2.

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On August 16, 1966 the Juneau area voters went to the polls and overwhelmingly voted
yes for the 1% tax increase for the museum by a ratio of two and one-half to one.34 The total
estimated value of the project was just over $1.2 million. The breakdown of funds to pay for the
museum was:

$334,160 – Value of land donated by City


$ 10,400 – State matching funds
$268,600 – Borough 1% sales tax
$613,160 – Total

$613,160 – Federal grant35

Final drawings were approved and stamped by Linn A. Forrest, Sr. and his son Steve
Forrest of Linn A. Forrest Architects, AIA in December of 1966.36 A construction contract for
$763,892 was signed with Triplette Construction, Inc. in February 1967 and soon after
construction commenced.37 The original completion date was August 27, 1967 so that it would
be ready in time for the Centennial celebrations that fall.38 Multiple construction setbacks moved
the completion date back to December 1967 and finally on January 7, 1968 a dedication open
house was held at 2:00 p.m. at the new Alaska State Centennial Museum. The museum was
formally transferred from the City of Juneau to the State of Alaska by the Gastineau Channel
Centennial Commission, as Mildred Banfield, Chair of the Commission presented the symbolic
key for the new museum to Governor Walter J. Hickel. The historical exhibits and art work were
moved into the museum the next day.39
Since it opened, the Alaska State Centennial Museum has hosted permanent and special
exhibits, lectures and classes about Alaska history and art.40 The museum continues to serve
local and state residents as well as visitors in what is now known as the Willoughby District.

34
“Progressives Victorious: Overwhelming Vote OKs Tax,” JAE, 17 August 1966, p. 1.
35
Keith Hogan, Notes and timeline pertaining to early history of the Alaska State Museum.
36
Gastineau Channel Centennial Association, Site Plan/As Built Drawings for Alaska State Centennial Museum,
Linn A. Forrest Architects, A.I.A., Juneau, 1966.
37
Keith Hogan, Notes and time line pertaining to early history of the Alaska State Museum.
38
Museum Construction Photo Caption, JAE, 15 September 1967.
39
“Official Acceptance,” Photo Caption, JAE, 8 January 8 1968, p. 1.
40
Alaska State Museum, “A Century of Collecting.”

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Architectural Description
The Alaska State Centennial Museum was designed primarily by Steve Forrest of Linn A.
Forrest Architects, AIA. Steve Forrest sketched the design for the building while sitting in his
room waiting for a meeting in Seattle’s Ben Franklin Hotel.41 Museum staff and the architect
agreed early in the design process that “a structure functioning as a box with few constraints to
interior arrangement would serve best...Since the building needed to be open space, fire resistant
and durable, we knew it should be of concrete and steel but kept simple.”42 In 1984, a one story
mechanical systems building was added off the south end of the west elevation. In 1992, a
second floor was added to the 1984 addition. The addition is connected to the original building
by a curtain wall of windows which currently house offices and a conference room on the first
and second floors (see Figure 4).
The building’s design is a blend of New Formalism and Brutalism with a strong
Northwest Coast Native design influence that is unique to the region. The New Formalism
influence can be found in the placement of the building atop a podium, the stark white, concrete
panels that mimic rich construction materials such as marble, and the formal landscape features
and use of fountains in the original design. The Brutalism influence is apparent in the use of
concrete surfaces and strong geometric forms. The combination of these design elements along
with the architect’s interpretation of traditional Northwest Coast Native designs makes for a truly
one-of-a-kind building. The Museum literally sits atop the landscape like a gleaming white box
now as it was originally intended (see Figure 5).
There are other examples in Alaska of either New Formalism or Brutalism. The Atwood
Center on the University of Alaska Anchorage campus is a good representation of a purely New
Formalism style building. The State office building in Juneau uses many of the design elements
found in Brutalism. While examples of these styles can be found throughout the state, it is the
combination of these styles along with the incorporation of a modern adaptation of Northwest
Coast Native designs that sets the museum apart from the pure examples of either style.
The original museum building is two stories with a below grade basement. It sits on a
reinforced concrete pad, with grade beam and structural slab system supported on heavy timber
piles (depth unknown). The perimeter and basement walls are reinforced concrete supported by

41
Steve Forrest, Interviewed by Steve Henrikson, (Curator of Collections, Alaska State Museum), 26 January 2000.
42
Steve Forrest, e-mail message to Summer Rickman, 11 November 2010.

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concrete grade beams. The architect noted that the building was constructed according to strict
earthquake standards and has “a hell of a foundation.”43 The building is built on waste rock from
the Alaska Juneau Gold Mine in what was once a tidal basin. Architect Steve Forrest especially
liked this project location because it was a perfectly flat site that produced no complications or
limitations on his building’s design.44 The first and second floor and roof framing consist of
concrete over steel form deck. This floor system is supported by steel beams and columns. The
concrete is 4 ½” thick at the floor levels and 3 ½” at the roof level (see Figure 6). The
foundation system on the 1984 addition is constructed similar to the original structure. Both the
original building and the addition have flat roofs with a fully adhered EPDM system which has
been patched many times.
The original building has a rectangular footprint of 8,000 square feet per floor for a total
of 24,000 square feet; it is 100 feet wide and 80 feet long. The basement level is 12 feet below
the finish grade. The floor to floor height for the first floor is 17’2” with a floor to floor height
on the second floor of 13 feet. The addition is 37’4” by 50 feet with a total square footage of
3,100 square feet.
Exterior walls of the original museum are precast reinforced concrete panels that are
attached at the base of the wall and at the columns with a welded connection (see Figure 7).
Each panel is 31’11” tall, 9’11 ½” wide, and 9” deep except for the two panels above the
entryway which are 20’9” tall. There are 8 full length panels on both the south and north
elevations. On the east/primary elevation there are 8 full length panels and the two shorter
panels over the entryway. On the west/rear elevation there were originally 10 full length panels.
The five panels on the south end of the west elevation are now covered by the 1980’s addition
(see Figure 8). The panels were precast and poured by Concrete Technology of Tacoma, and
shipped to Juneau by barge.45
The panels have stylized Southeast Alaska Native motifs composed of a “flicker feather”
and “eye.”46 During Steve’s childhood he developed an affinity for the shapes and forms of
Northwest Coast art when his father, Linn A. Forrest, Sr., worked as a supervisor for the U.S.
Forest Service and the Civilian Conservation Corps on the totem pole restoration projects in

43
Ibid.
44
Ibid.
45
Ibid.
46
Steve Forrest to Ms. Frances Shaw, 25 November 1975, Copy on File under Alaska State Museum History.

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Southeast Alaska in the 1930s and 1940s.47 The “flicker feather” motif comes in many sizes and
is made up of the split U form. The Haida word for the split U shape, SGáahlts’iid táa’un,
translates as “flicker feather,” referencing the shape that is created when a feather of a flicker’s
tail is placed inside a U form. Feathers from a Red-shafted Flicker were often found in chiefs’
headdresses. The “eye” motif is also known as the ovoid which is one of the most characteristic
shapes used in Northwest Coast art. In the case of the museum it is the inner ovoid which is
used, where the linear ovoid contains an inner ovoid. This inner ovoid could be a small and solid
element representing an eyeball.48 The panels are the primary character defining feature of the
building.

Figure 4. Detail of exterior wall panel. Photo taken October 26, 2010.

The primary entrance is centered on the east elevation with a concrete canopy or marquee
supported by four piers with chamfered corners along the vehicle drop off area. The roof of the
marquee is 58’8” long by 14’8” wide and 15’4” tall. The roof of the canopy is continued over
the entry stairs attaching to the primary façade of the building (see Figure 9). The stairs lead to
glass entry doors which are 3’18” above the grade of the sidewalk. The original decorative hand
rails on the stairway and ramp have been replaced. The original entryway has been sensitively
altered to provide more interior space for the reception desk. Originally, there were three sets of
double doors recessed from the primary façade 6’9” with another set of three double doors 6’6”

47
Steve Forrest, Interviewed by Steve Henrikson, 26 January 2000.
48
Hilary Stewart, Looking at Indian Art of the Northwest Coast (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1979), p.
20-22.

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behind them. The left pair of double doors was removed making interior space for
administration. The front doors are now two sets of double doors. The exterior doors have also
been pulled forward closer to the primary façade providing more room within the entry vestibule
(see Figures 10 and 11). This minimal alteration is not discernible from the sidewalk and does
not diminish the integrity of design.
The only notable interior feature of the building is the ramp to the second floor in the
northeast corner. Along the ramp there are display boxes built into the wall and in the middle of
the ramp is an eagle tree exhibit reaching from the first floor to the second floor (see Figures 12
and 13). Steve Forrest designed this ramp with accessibility in mind. His original concept was
to have totem poles displayed in this space to allow visitors a close up look at the design of the
poles.49 The rest of the interior is unadorned with movable interior walls providing flexible
exhibit space. Some walls have been added to the first floor where exhibits are permanent, but
there are no load bearing walls in the interior of the building because the weight is distributed by
the steel frame creating a flexible space (see Figures 14 and 15). Office space, bathrooms,
elevator and stairs are all in the southwest corner.
The building sits on the rear/west end of the lot with a circular driveway/drop off area
between the primary elevation and Whittier Street. The front lawn has low maintenance
plantings and grassy areas along with concrete pathways and sidewalks (see Figure 16). The
building itself is on a pedestal surrounded by the original stone retaining wall (see Figure 17).
Originally, there were two fountains placed at the front corners of the building that were
removed due to maintenance issues (see Figure 18). There is a paved parking lot to the south of
the building for museum staff and visitors which is reached from Whittier Street.50

49
Steve Forrest, Interviewed by Steve Henrikson, 26 January 2000.
50
All exact measurements and information can be found in the following sources: ECI Hyer, Inc., Alaska State
Museum Building Condition Survey, Library Archives Museum Project, June 2010; Schneider Associates Structural
Engineers, Structural Condition Assessment: State of Alaska Museum, Juneau, Alaska, Prepared for ECI/Hyer
Architects, Library Archives Museum Project, 2010; Gastineau Channel Centennial Association, Site Plan/As Built
Drawings for Alaska State Centennial Museum, Linn A. Forrest Architects, A.I.A., Juneau, 1966.

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Significance of the Alaska State Centennial Museum (JUN-1124)


For a property to be eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places, it must
first meet one or more of the four National Register Criteria for evaluating significance. If
determined significant under one or more of the Criteria, then it is evaluated to determine if it
retains enough integrity to convey its historic significance. The seven qualities of integrity are
location, design, setting, materials, workmanship, feeling, and association.51 It is not the purpose
of a determination of eligibility to evaluate the structural integrity of a property. The Criteria for
evaluating significance are:
Criterion A: A property is associated with events that have made a significant
contribution to the broad patterns of history.
Criterion B: A property is associated with the lives of persons significant in our past.
Criterion C: A property embodies the distinctive characteristics of a type, period, or
method of construction or represents the work of a master or represents high artistic
values, or it represents a significant and distinguishable entity whose components may
lack individual distinction.
Criterion D: A property has yielded or is likely to yield important information about
prehistory or history

There are special requirements for some properties called Criteria Considerations. If an
individual property meets one or more of the four Criteria and possesses integrity, but is
generally excluded, the following Criteria Considerations need to be applied:
Criteria Consideration A: A religious property that derives its significance from
architecture, artistic distinction, or historical importance.
Criteria Consideration B: A structure that was removed from its original location but
which is significant due to architectural value or because it is the only remaining structure
associated with an historic person or event.
Criteria Consideration C: A birthplace or grave of an important historic person if there
is no other site or building directly associated with that person’s productive life.

51
National Park Service, How to Apply the National Register Criteria for Evaluation, National Register Bulletin No.
15, Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of the Interior.

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Criteria Consideration D: A cemetery that is significant due to the graves of important


persons, the age or distinctive features of the cemetery, or from its association with
historic events.
Criteria Consideration E: An accurately reconstructed building in a proper setting and
dignified manner as part of a restoration master plan when no other structures with the
same association survive.
Criteria Consideration F: A primarily commemorative property in which the design,
age, tradition, or symbolic value has invested it with its own exceptional significance.
Criteria Consideration G: A property that is of exceptional importance that achieved
significance within the past 50 years.

Recommendation of Eligibility for the Alaska State Centennial Museum (JUN-1124)


The Alaska State Centennial Museum is recommended eligible under Criterion A for its
association with the Alaska Purchase Centennial celebration and under Criterion C because it
represents a unique blend of New Formalism and Brutalism with Northwest Coast Native design
influences. The Alaska State Centennial Museum retains all seven aspects of integrity necessary
to convey its significance. It is less than 50 years old, so Criteria Consideration G must be
addressed.
Criterion A:
The Alaska State Centennial Museum is significant at the local, state, and national levels
as a major Alaska Purchase Centennial project. The Alaska Purchase Centennial was recognized
with an act of Congress as a nationally significant event. To receive federal funding, the Alaska
State Centennial Museum had to be a permanent fixture to the state’s economy. The museum is
not only an example of the Centennial projects; it is a major destination for tourists visiting
Southeast Alaska and a cultural center for residents of Juneau. The GCCC and local citizens
chose the museum as their major contribution to the statewide and local celebrations. Local
public commitment was evidenced by the overwhelming support of the community’s first
proposed consumer sales tax increase for a public project.
Criterion B:
The Alaska State Centennial Museum is not significant under Criterion B. There were
many important people involved in the process of the museum’s development; however this

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building is not the best representation of their significance.


Criterion C:
The Alaska State Centennial Museum is significant because it represents a unique blend
of New Formalism and Brutalism and exhibits strong Northwest Coast Native design influences.
This modern building is one-of-a-kind in its design. The influence of New Formalism can be
found in the stark white, concrete panels that mimic rich construction materials, its formal
landscape features. The building is atop a podium, suggesting a modern monumentality. This
style was used for high profile cultural, institutional and civic buildings. The influence of
Brutalism can be found in the use of concrete surfaces and the variety of geometric forms and
contradicting shapes on the exterior walls. Buildings in this style are usually blockish and have
repetitive shapes. Merged with elements of these two styles, the architect, Steve Forrest,
interjected his own interpretation of Northwest Coast Native design drawn out of his deep
appreciation of this art form.
Criterion D:
The Alaska State Centennial Museum is not significant under Criterion D. This property
has not yielded and is not likely to yield any information important to the prehistory or history of
the region.
Integrity:
The National Register recognizes that properties change over time and states that it is not
vital for a property to retain all its physical features; however, the property must retain key
physical features that allow it to convey its significance. The Alaska State Centennial Museum
retains all seven aspects of integrity. The museum is in its original location. Although, the
neighborhood around the museum has developed since construction of the building, the museum
sits within a large lot. The landscape and setting of the lot convey the original design intent.
The building is a landmark in its neighborhood. The feeling and association of the Alaska State
Centennial Museum are still evident the same way they were in 1968. Despite the 1984 and
1992 additions and other slight interior space modifications, the building retains integrity of
design because the character defining exterior wall panels are still intact. The additions were
sensitively attached allowing the architect’s intent of shape, form, and massing to remain. The
key exterior materials dating to the period of historic significance including the concrete panels
and stone retaining wall are intact. The workmanship in the casting of the concrete panels is still

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evident. These aspects of integrity allow the property to convey its significance under Criteria A
and C.
Criteria Consideration F:
The Alaska State Centennial Museum was built in commemoration of the Alaska
Purchase Centennial in 1967, but the museum does not need to meet Criteria Consideration F
because its primary function is not commemorative.
Criteria Consideration G:
Construction of the museum began in 1967. Although the property is nearing 50 years of
age, Criteria Consideration G needs to be addressed. The property has exceptional significance
under Criterion A because it showed Juneau’s strong desire to plan and improve their community
with a new State Museum as its signature Alaska Purchase Centennial project. All city precincts
voted for the sales tax increase to support the construction. The museum is exceptionally
significant under Criterion C for its combination of New Formalism, Brutalism and Northwest
Coast Native art, producing a building that is distinct and unique within Juneau and the state of
Alaska.

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Appendix:
Historic and Current
Photos

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Figure 4. View looking north showing original building attached to 1984 and 1992 additions.
Photo taken October 26, 2010.

Figure 5. View of the primary/east façade. Photo taken October 26, 2010.

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Figure 6. Alaska State Centennial Museum under construction. Alaska’s Digital


Archives, Don Steffa Collection, ca. 1958-1977. ASL-P283-2-433 (www.vilda.alaska.edu)

Figure 7. View showing panels being installed during construction. Alaska’s Digital
Archives, Don Steffa Collection, ca. 1958-1977. ASL-P283-2-436 (www.vilda.alaska.edu)

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Figure 8. View looking southeast showing the west elevation and 1984 and 1992 additions.
Photo taken October 26, 2010.

Figure 9. View looking north showing the entry canopy or marquee.


Photo taken October 26, 2010.

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Figure 10. View looking west at the primary entryway. Photo taken October 26, 2010.

Figure 11. View looking east from interior lobby showing modification of entryway.
Photo taken October 26, 2010.

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Figure 12. Historic view of interior ramp. Alaska’s Digital Archives, Don Steffa
Collection, ca. 1958-1977. ASL-P283-2-461 (www.vilda.alaska.edu)

Figure 13. Current view of interior ramp. Photo taken October 26, 2010.

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Figure 14. Historic view of interior lobby. Alaska’s Digital Archives, Don Steffa
Collection, ca. 1958-1977. ASL-P283-2-465 (www.vilda.alaska.edu)

Figure 15. Current view of interior lobby. Photo taken October 26, 2010.

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Figure 16. View looking west showing front lawn and primary/east facade.
Photo taken October 26, 2010.

Figure 17. View looking east showing retaining wall.


Photo taken October 26, 2010.

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Figure 14. Historic view of fountain outside Alaska State Centennial Museum.
Alaska’s Digital Archives, Robert N. DeArmond Photograph Collection, ca. 1890-1972.
ASL-P258-I-BookB-35-01 (www.vilda.alaska.edu)

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Sources Consulted

Alaska State Museum


“A Century of Collecting.” Alaska State Museum Review, No. 5 (2000).

City/Borough of Juneau (CBJ)


Assessor’s Database. City/Borough of Juneau Finance Department
http://www.juneau.org/assessordata/sqlassessor.php (accessed November 4, 2010).

________.
Report of the Casey-Shattuck Neighborhood Historic Building Survey: From Dairy Farm
to Neighborhood. Juneau: City/Borough of Juneau, 2004.

Cole, Dermot
North to the Future: The Alaska Story, 1959-2009. Kenmore, WA: Epicenter Press, 2008.

Cudney, Margaret Femmer


“David Benjamin Femmer.” In Gastineau Channel Memories, 1880-1959, pp. 152-153.
Juneau: Pioneer Book Committee, 2001.

DeArmond, R. N.
The Founding of Juneau. Juneau: Gastineau Channel Centennial Association, 1980.

ECI Hyer, Inc.


Alaska State Museum Building Condition Survey. Library Archives Museum Project.
June 2010.

Gastineau Channel Centennial Association (GCCC)


Memorandum to William A. Egan, Governor of Alaska. “Synopsis of Progress for the
Proposed State Museum Building.” N.D. Copy on file at Alaska State Museum Archives,
File: Centennial Museum Project History, 1965-1968.

________.
Site Plan/As Built Drawings for Alaska State Centennial Museum. Linn A. Forrest
Architects, A.I.A., Juneau, 1966.

Hogan, Keith
Notes and timeline pertaining to early history of the Alaska State Museum. Copy on File
at the Alaska State Library Collections: Gastineau Channel Centennial Association
Records, MS4 Bx3, Projects 1964-84.

Juneau Alaska Empire (JAE). 1 January 1966 – 31 January 1968.

National Park Service


How to Apply the National Register Criteria for Evaluation. National Register Bulletin
No. 15. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of the Interior.

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Schneider Associates Structural Engineers


Structural Condition Assessment: State of Alaska Museum, Juneau, Alaska Prepared for
ECI/Hyer Architects. Library Archives Museum Project. 2010.

Spencer, Arthur, C.
The Juneau Gold Belt, Alaska. U.S. Geological Survey Bulletin No. 287. Washington,
D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1906.

Stewart, Hilary
Looking at Indian Art of the Northwest Coast. Seattle: University of Washington Press,
1979.

U.S. Department of Commerce


Federal Participation Alaska Purchase Centennial Celebration 1967. U.S. Department of
Commerce, 1968.

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