Cabin rehab effort boosted

Posted: Wednesday, April 05, 2000

Preservation of the Victor Holm cabin in Kasilof is about to get under way.

The Kachemak Heritage Land Trust, which recently was given the 100-plus-year-old property, just received a $2,500 grant from the Seattle office of the Land Trust Alliance, a Washington, D.C., based organization, for developing a management and preservation plan.

"We're very excited," said Barb Seaman, KHLT's executive director. "We're going to hire an architect to do an assessment of the property and figure out what needs to be done."

The Victor Holm cabin, located near Cohoe Loop Road, was built around 1890 and is believed to be the oldest standing structure south of the Kasilof River and the second oldest on the peninsula. It is filled with a treasure trove of Holm's belongings from the early part of the 20th century.

While well-known to area residents, the cabin's exact location is being kept as confidential as possible for liability reasons, and in deference to the privacy of nearby neighbors.

Seaman said the architect will do a base-line study of the property to document its current condition and make drawings of the building.

"Then he'll make a needs assessment and tell us what we need to do," she said.

Seaman said she has an Anchorage architect ready to do the work but has not signed a contract with him yet.

After the study is done, Seaman said KHLT will create a management plan and, after finding grant money, start to do the work outlined in the architect's assessment.

"We want to make sure the roof and foundation are OK," Seaman said. "And we want to look at the eroding bank to see if we will be able to stabilize it, which is unlikely, or if we have to move the building."

The Holm cabin was once listed as one of the 10 most endangered buildings in the state by the Alaska Association of Historic Preserva-tion. Seaman said she was not sure if the cabin was still listed, but is going to look into getting it listed again. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The $2,500 KHLT was awarded is one of 10 grants totaling $53,250 the Land Trust Alliance announced recently.

The grants were through the Alliance's Northwest Program for projects in Montana, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming and Alaska.

"The challenges faced by land trusts in the Northwest are huge, and so are their successes," said LTA/NW director Elizabeth Bell. "These grants and other services provided by the Land Trust Alliance help land trusts expand to meet the ever greater need here, where land development sometimes proceeds at a runaway pace."

The Holm cabin and its contents were bought from Holm in 1948 by Elfrieda and Charles Lewis.

"Mrs. Lewis and her late husband, Charlie, carefully preserved the cabin and its contents over the years," Seaman said.

The Lewises added a second porch and converted the first porch into a kitchen, and then the building became the new Cohoe post office, with Mrs. Lewis acting as the first postmaster.

They lived there until 1951, when they moved next door to another cabin built by Holm. Mrs. Lewis turned the cabin over to KHLT early this year. The land trust is working with the Kasilof Historical Society in preserving the cabin and to provide tours of it.

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