by Phillip Manning ~ June 28th, 2013
Last week, the old pavilion in the Talkeetna Village Park was taken down. It has been replaced by a new structure, which is used for events such as Live at Five. The materials from the old pavilion are not going to waste, however. The lumber was donated to the Talkeetna Historical Society, which plans to use it to preserve Belle’s Barn, a historic site at the end of Main Street.
The barn was constructed nearly a hundred years ago, and was used by Belle MacDonald to house horses for her bush freight hauling service. Today, it is owned by the Historical Society and is part of their walking tour of Talkeetna. Time has taken its toll on the building, as Talkeetna Historical Society Board President Joellen Bye explains:
“Unfortunatey, the barn has deteriorated over that many years, and what is left of it was on its very last leg, and there isn’t a whole lot of it yet. But we want to preserve the site and as many of the original logs as we can. That’s what we’re in the process of doing, and the old pavilion is helping us to do that.”
Joellen says she met the borough contractors by chance as they were planning to disassemble the pavilion. There were no immediate plans for the materials at the time, and she suggested that they could be donated to the Historical Society to help preserve Belle’s Barn.
The Historical Society has limited funds for the barn’s preservation, but the materials, along with a grant from the Talkeetna Community Council will let the Society get its plans underway, which will start with a foundation platform.
“What we envision is when that [platform] is finished, what logs are left will be placed on that, up off the ground for protection, and eventually we want to erect a roof over that, such as what was the open pavilion. We plan to have an open pavilion setting again, mostly to protect those logs and to be used as a shelter. We’re looking at it as sort of an outdoor classroom if any teachers want to use that for any reason. We do have an interpretive walking trail through that area with signage of the plants and all of the trees and what’s all there.”
The Historical Society’s goal is to create a park-like public use area with the preserved remnants of the barn as its centerpiece. The Society acquired the property with the intent of keeping it as a greenbelt area, free from new development, at the end of Talkeetna’s Main Street.