A couple of the many historical buildings that are part of the historic site at Kenai Landing wait out the long Kenai winter in silence. The old Ward's Cove cannery was purchased last year and is being converted into a multipurpose tourist destination. Developers say work will continue at the site through the winter and into summer.
Photo by Mark Quiner
Jon Faulkner believes his business interests can have a hand in preserving pieces of history.
So the co-owner of Kenai Landing Inc. took the old Ward's Cover Cannery on in Kenai and applied to make it a Recreational and Cultural Interest Area an official state of Alaska designation.
The designation authorizes the company to place signs on state maintained right of ways.
It is one of the only privately owned business in the state to achieve this designation, Faulkner said.
The cannery also recently was determined eligible for national historic registry status. Faulkner said he is proceeding with that process.
Faulkner purchased the old cannery last year with his business partner Steve Agni. They have spent millions of dollars turning it into a multipurpose tourist facility. The renovated cannery will be a complex of services appealing to visitors' imaginations and curiosity of Alaska history.
Construction crews have been converting the old machinist bunkhouse into hotel rooms. Another building will be a market place with different shops. There also will be a cannery operating with boats coming to unload their catch. Visitors will be able to walk onto the dock to watch the process with the majestic Cook Inlet and Mount Redoubt in the background. Sportfishers will also be able to have their fish custom processed.
These are only a couple of examples of what the owners have planned.
Kenai Landing was built in 1912 and was called Ward's Cove. It is located on the edge of the Kenai River across for the city of Kenai. Faulkner said it was the largest cannery at the time employing local and international workers.
Part of the community's history is tied up in the buildings, he said. Many who came to the area to work married, had kids and still have descendants in the area, he said.
Faulkner is not the only person excited about the cannery. When it opened last summer for a month-long trial run, he said about 15,000 people visited the facility.
Rick Scott said the first time he saw the complex, he was inspired. He works as the director of sales and marketing for Kenai Landing and Land's End Resort in Homer. In addition, he will open a shop in the market this summer with his fiance.
Pointing out the improvements of the facility, Scott said the renovations will not affect the historical feel of the buildings. The exterior of the buildings are having little work done to them, he said.
Faulkner said this is more than just a business opportunity. He said he had tremendous interest in preserving what was already there. He is also the majority shareholder of the Van Gilder Hotel in Seward and Land's End Resort in Homer.
Right now, Kenai Landing is closed due to lack of insulation, Scott said. But it will be open by May, he said. "We've got a lot of work to do," he said.
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