Along with the Russian Bishop’s House, Building 29 is one of only four buildings still remaining from the Russian Colonial period. It gets its name from its original marcation on a map given to the United States after the transfer of Alaska from Russian governance. It was built in the 1850’s to serve the employees of the company. The second floor served as a barracks for employees to live in, and the main floor housed a kitchen, bakery and laundry, all of which were used communally by employees.
Then, and now, Building 29 is conveniently located right in the heart of Sitka. As an employee, you could head out the front door to the left, down to the docks where trade goods were being shipped in and out and where boats were being built and repaired. Or head right to go to church and socialize during your free hours. A little home away from home. But an important thing to remember is that even though the Russian American Company had been headquartered in Sitka since 1808, they were not the only ones to occupy Sitka Sound, and they were far from the first. The Kiks.ádi and Kaagwaantaan clans of Tlingit people have called Sitka home for the last 10,000 years, and they didn’t leave when the Russians arrive. Even with all the comforts of home that the Russian American Company provided for its employees, whenever they walked out their front door they would have been very wary, and aware of the fact that they were living on someone else’s land, and they were not welcome guests.
There was a constant tension between the Tlingit and the Russian American Company, felt by each and every member of the community. The reconstructed blockhouse, the next stop on the program, is a stark reminder of that tension. Continue walking down Lincoln Street for one block, then cross and walk up Barracks Street, continuing onto Marine Street. Climb the concrete stairs on your left up onto the hill to reach the blockhouse.