Also known as the Tilson Building, Building 29 is one of the few structures that survived Alaska history’s Russian era. It was built in 1835 and is listed under the National Historic Landmarks. Building 29 is one of the few structures extant that bears witness to colonial ventures of Russia in present-day US territory.
The two-story log building used to be three bays wide initially and had a gable roof. To make the logs fit, they were grooved to the bottom; they were marked with Arabic and Roman numerals and dovetailed at the corners. Shortly after construction, a shed-roofed two-story gallery was added to the west end, and it functioned as an entrance, airlock, and stairway at the Russian Bishops House.
Another two-bay addition was built at the west end in the 1880s; it incorporated the gallery under the gable roof. Four gable dormers were added to the now six-bay structure. In the 1960s, a big storefront window and entrance at the northeast corner were introduced, withdrawing one of the original window openings.
The Russian-American Company sold Building 29 to William Dodge in 1867. Through the years, Building 29 has passed through several operating hands and has been primarily used as a commercial retail space on the bottom floor and as a residence above.
Although Buildings 29’s origins are not apparent, this building is a uniquely rare survivor of Alaska’s governance by the Russian-American Company.