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The village of Ninilchik was founded in 1846 as a colony for Russian pensioners, most of whom had married Native women and wished to remain in Alaska when their tours of duty with the Russian-American Company were over. Fifty years later, the priest who visited the village as part of the circuit around his parish noted that Ninilchik “resembles our Russian villages.” Located on the lowlands near the mouth of the Ninilchik River, the village is surrounded by high bluffs. The houses in the village, arranged in a seemingly random plan, include about a dozen log structures with either flat or round logs, all neatly dovetailed at the corners. As in Kenai, most of the logs are much narrower than they are tall, having been hewn to about a 4-inch thickness. Most of the houses are one cell, but some have additions.

One possible source for the similarity of these structures is a master carpenter named John “Peg Leg” Astragin, who lived here at the turn of the century. One example of his work is a one-and-a-half-story house, now painted red. The side-gable roof has an unusual gable-roofed dormer, which projects so that it is supported by columns. The walls are logs, carefully dovetailed. The house was built around the turn of the century and may have served as the rectory. With its second-story gabled projection, it bears a passing resemblance to the rectory in Kenai.

Writing Credits

Alison K. Hoagland

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