In December 1999, Kachemak Heritage Land Trust accepted donation of the 1.37-acre Victor Holm property in Kasilof, with the historically significant buildings on site, to maintain for historic and cultural values. The property was donated to KHLT by Elfrida Lewis and her daughter Anne Lewis Kahle.
Victor Holm was a man of Finnish origins who immigrated to the U.S. in 1887. In 1890, working for the Alaska Packers Association, he traveled to Alaska via San Francisco to work at the salmon cannery at the mouth of the Kasilof River. It is believed that in that same year he built his first log cabin, or possibly renovated an existing one, within rowing distance of the cannery.
Holm was a self-sufficient hunter, trapper, gardener, cobbler, and carpenter. He built a second cabin, larger and more finely crafted than the first, and his property was a stopover for many other settlers and travelers in the area over the years. In 1944 he traveled to San Francisco to visit his ailing sister and never returned, leaving behind hand-made dog sleds, shoes, and furniture, cobbler’s tools, snowfall records, and many other cultural treasures.
The Lewis family purchased the property in 1948, and the older cabin was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1977.
Since transfer to Kachemak Heritage Land Trust, the site has undergone several archaeological, architectural, and condition assessments, with the entire site being added to the National Register of Historic Places.
In May 2004, Kachemak Heritage Land Trust (KHLT) hosted a hands-on restoration workshop at the property in partnership with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, with assistance from the Alaska State Historic Preservation Office, Homer’s Society of Natural History (Pratt Museum), and the Kasilof Regional Historic Association. The training, Stabilization and Preservation Techniques for Historic Log Structures, was attended by 15 participants representing the U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Kodiak Baranov Museum, and the Cultural Services Division of Canada’s Yukon Territory, among others.
The hands-on restoration workshop taught participants the methods of replacing and preserving sill and wall logs in a hewn log structure, and included topics such as scribing and measuring techniques, reproducing corner notching, replacing sill logs, hewing techniques, and historic preservation ethics. Most importantly, participants were trained in the rigorous process that must be completed to meet state and federal requirements for the restoration of historic structures. Within that process, historic archeology, cultural landscapes, regional architecture, preservation theory, and preservation planning was discussed.
Further restoration is an ongoing effort as funding allows. Our management intent is to restore the property’s historic structures according to the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties, preserve the Victor Holm artifacts, and create an interpretive display of the site and collection for public education and enjoyment.