Independence Mine State Historical Park Rehabilitation Project Kick-Off
Independence Mine State Historical Park will receive some much-needed historic restoration and preservation work over the next three years. The Mat Su Trails and Parks Foundation (MSTPF) is pleased to announce the receipt of a $1.3 million dollar grant from The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust to partner with the Department of Natural Resources – Division of Parks and Outdoor Recreation (DPOR).
Unique problems at Independence Mine State Historical Park are solved by creative philanthropic partners.
This is exactly the case with a multi-year rehabilitation project underway at Independence Mine State Historical Park (IMSHP). In 2022 New York-based Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust awarded the Mat-Su Trails and Parks Foundation a $1.3 million dollar grant. The grant funding is to provide critical preservation work to the most visible and used buildings in the complex.
The project focuses on fixing exterior building degradation caused by a combination of age and vandalism to four of the park’s 16 structures. Aside from the exterior work, recommendations will be made for foundation maintenance and roof reconstruction on the manager’s house. This year, architects and engineers are developing a condition assessment and plan for construction. The construction phase of the project will likely span the summers of 2023 and 2024. The season for work in Hatcher Pass is very short, with challenging weather windows.
An important partner in the rehabilitation work is the State Office of History and Archeology. Independence Mine is on the National Register of Historic Places. Therefore, the work has to adhere to strict guidelines. Ensuring the buildings keeps the same look and feel of the period of significance for the mine. The mine’s height of productivity was in 1941. before closing in 1951 due, in part, to disruptions from World War 2.
Investing in Our Community
Both Alaska State Parks and Helmsley Charitable Trust leaders acknowledge that investment like this can be a draw for additional funders both in Alaska and Outside.
Speaking at a press event in early August, Walter Panzirer, a Trustee for Helmsley said, “We wish to be a catalyst, whether it’s the state that steps up the funding, or this spurs other foundations and other private donors. If they can rehabilitate more buildings, I’ve been told that more of these buildings would be open to the public. And how cool would that be to the visitor or a local resident being able to access more of their state park?”
At the Mat-Su Trails and Parks Foundation we are looking forward to helping preserve this slice of history. Independence Mine State Historical Park is a recreational gem in the amazing natural wonder that is Hatcher Pass.
If you want to know more about the trails in IMSHP please download our our free trails app on Google Play or the App Store. And if you want to take a tour of the Park, check out the offerings from Salmonberry Travel and Tours who provide inexpensive daily tours of the area.
In the News:Helmsley Charitable Trust Grants $1.3 Million for Preservation of Independence Mine State Historical Park
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