The Leonhard Seppala House Restoration Project is an effort to save what many believe to be a key piece of Alaskan history, the home of a legendary musher, three-time champion of the All Alaska Sweepstakes, who played a central role in saving the town of Nome during the 1925 diphtheria epidemic. A KNOM article details the story behind the restoration effort, spearheaded by former Nome teacher Urtha Lenharr.
Saving the one-time home of Leonard Seppala is no easy task, but the project has the support of another Alaskan legend, the official Iditarod artist Jon Van Zyle, who serves as the project’s vice-president. On the project’s Facebook page Jon outlines the urgency of securing enough donations to move the house outside of town by July 1st: “Please DONATE (any amount) to help save his home in Nome, before the city of Nome destroys it. We are saving it and creating a small museum to honor his legacy.”
In May, 1981 the Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS) photographer Jet Lowe included the Seppala House in an index of 34 photos taken for the Historic American Landscapes Survey of the City of Nome, part of the nation’s first federal preservation program, begun in 1933 to document America’s architectural heritage.
Also included in the HABS Index were the Eric Lindblom cabin, the Sally Carrighar house, the Darling-Scott house, and the Carrie McLain house, among many other landmarks of Nome. The photographs were transmitted to the Library of Congress in 1985.
The Seppala House project needs funding for the move and the restoration, and those behind the effort are hoping sled dog clubs and historic associations will make donations to assist the project supporters in reaching the goal of $5,000 before the July 1 deadline. They need everyone’s help in spreading the word, to save this historic house at the end of the Iditarod Trail.
• The Leonhard Seppala House Restoration Project main website
• Citizens Seek to Save Leonhard Seppala’s House, and Legacy, KNOM, June 1, 2018
To guide and finance the project, Lenharr has established a non-profit with a seven-member board of directors. They are currently fundraising and doing research for the restoration. Lenharr says he hopes to have the house fully repaired within a year.
• Musher aims to save a piece of Iditarod history KTVA, March 13, 2018
“It’s just a part of history that we hate to see torn back down and destroyed,” Lenharr said. “The city of Nome wants to get rid of some of the houses that are vacant because they are fire hazards.”
• Planners Select Structures For Demolition Or Fix-Up Nome Nugget, Dec. 15, 2017
The small blue house at 207 Bering St. is associated in local lore with Leonhard Seppala, a Norwegian dog musher who played a pivotal part in the 1925 serum run to Nome during a diphtheria outbreak.
Update June 11, 2018: