The Alaska Arts Confluence and Port Chilkoot Co. are partnering to host a three-day masonry repointing workshop in Haines May 3-5.

The event, provided by the Vanishing Treasures Program and National Park Service, will give community members hands-on experience repairing Fort Seward’s burnt-out barracks building foundation as well as background on historic preservation programs throughout the state.

Confluence creative director Carol Tuynman said the workshop will engage local volunteers in meaningful work that will jump-start repairs to the barracks ruins, which will soon be home to local art installations as part of the Confluence’s Historic Fort William H. Seward Sculpture Garden project.

Participants will learn to mix mortar, repoint the building’s ashlar foundation, perform basic condition assessments, and use the tools and processes required to build and repoint masonry walls.

“There are not a whole lot of buildings (in Alaska) with stone foundations like this,” said Grant Crosby, senior historical architect with the National Park Service’s Alaska Regional Office. “A lot of buildings in Alaska are wood or logs. These are actually pretty unique buildings with beautiful stone foundations.”

Crosby and historical preservation mason Sterling Holdorf will lead the workshop. Holdorf has sent away a sample of the building’s existing mortar to a San Francisco lab in the hopes of identifying its components.

“Matching the original mortar is a critical step in the restoration of the foundation walls,” Holdorf said. “This analysis will identify the various components that were used in the original mortar; material such as binder (natural cement, Portland cement and lime) as well as the size, quantity and color of aggregate/sand/fines. All of these components combined will enable us to match the original mortar as closely as possible.”

The hands-on work will be augmented with presentations and slideshows about historic preservation and National Historic Landmarks, the highest honor for historic sites in the United States. There are 2,500 National Historic Landmarks, 49 of which are in Alaska.

Registration for the hands-on portion of the workshop is limited to 15 participants. Others are welcome to sit in on the classroom segments of the seminar. Registration is required. The event is free. Register at

The Vanishing Treasures program supports the preservation of traditionally-built architecture throughout the western United States, facilitates the transfer of traditional skills, and promotes connections between culturally associated communities and places of their heritage.