October 17, 2023
A small crowd gathered on a cool Friday morning at St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church in Eklutna, the oldest standing building in the Municipality of Anchorage. Bishop Alexei of Sitka and Alaska delivered a prayer in front of a large crane and several scissor lifts.
It’s the start of a project to restore the historic church, work funded through a federal grant. The building is a far cry from its heyday decades ago. Inside, layers of dust cover numerous religious icons that are more than a century old. The outside of the church needs work too, said Jobe Bernier, one of the architects working on the restoration project.
“It is rare to demo anything on a historic building, and especially a historic sacred building,” Bernier said. “We want to preserve every single thing we can, but in this case, it does have a head-height issue where people are hitting their head and has rotting logs.”
The first step in the restoration project is taking down the old bell tower.
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