An update on the Leonhard Seppala House in Nome:
The Leonhard Seppala House was named as one of the Ten Most Endangered Historic Properties for 2020 by the Alaska Association for Historic Preservation, Inc., which is dedicated to the preservation of Alaska’s prehistoric and historic resources through education, promotion and advocacy. Preservation of the built environment provides a vital link and visible reminder of the past, emphasizing the continuity and diversity of Alaska.
AAHP aids in historic preservation projects across Alaska and monitors and supports legislation to promote historic preservation, serving as a liaison between local, statewide, and national historic preservation groups.
Leonhard Seppala House Property Description: The building itself is fully intact but in need of total repair. Logs used for foundation are badly rotted and need replaced. Tin roof is over 50 years old and bend and peeled back and needs replaced. Doors have been off the building and entrance has been boarded shut with plywood as are the windows. So these will need to be redone. The clapboard side is original and shows sign of wear from being wind blown and OLD but useable to show originality of the facility. Interior needs total restoration and since no electric is there, it will need to be added, as will a bathroom, and everything brought up to code.
Property history: This is the house that Leonhard Seppala lived in while he was in Nome Alaska during the 1925 Diptheria Epidemic that threated the population of Nome. It was also the house that Leonhard lived in while he owned Balto, Togo and Fritz; the dogs that ran the famed Serum Race to Nome.
Why is property endangered? It has been vacant for a decade and not well kept. It was set for demolition by the City of Nome due to it becoming a fire hazard and a place for homeless to hang out.
Activities under way to save property: In July of 2018, the owner of the building; Urtha Lenharr set up a non profit, raised some funds thru donations and Nome City Share funds to have the building moved to a safe location keeping it from demolition. It is now being assessed for material needed to rebuild the structure and bring it up to Nome City Codes for a small museum in honor of Seppala and his accomplishments. The building will need a full restoration and relocation when finished.It is our goal to do this project in phases.
• Phase one was to save the structure from being destroyed.
• Phase two is to assess what is needed to start restoration.
• Phase three is to start gathering State, Federal, Local, and Individual contributions together to see of we can afford materials.
• Next Phase would be to establish a volunteer base to start.
Leonhard Seppela was born in Skibotn, Norway on September 14, 1877. Seppala was brought to Nome by one of the famous Three Swedes, who founded gold near Anvil Mountain; Jafet Linderberg. In June of 1900, Leohard arrived in Nome.Leonhard Seppala is known for his infamous leaders: Togo, Balto, and Fritz. When Diptheria hit the costal village of Nome in 1925 and there was no way to get the life saving serum by boat or plane, Sepp was instrumental in organizing the Serum Run to Nome by Dog Team. With planes not running the only way to get the medicine to Nome was by ship from Seattle to Seward and then rail it from Seward to Nenana. Twenty dog teams had established a route to race it across the Seward Peninsula to Nome. Although Sepps dog, Balto (with dog driver, Gunner Kassan) brought the serum down the streets of Nome and received all the credit, Sepps’s lead dog, Togo actually ran Leonhard’s team the furtherest and the fastest during the grueling relay.
The Leonhard Seppala House website: https://www.leonhardseppalahouseproject.com/TheProject.html
To see all of the 2020 Endangered Historic Properties, visit the Alaska Association for Historic Preservation, Inc. at https://alaskapreservation.org/gallery/ten-most-endangered-historic-properties/2020-ten-most-endangered-historic-properties/
The Leonhard Seppala House file: