By: Sophia McDonald Bennett
Alpine Historical Park in Sutton-Alpine, Alaska is located about an hour outside Anchorage along the Glenn Highway Scenic Byway. The six-acre site offers visitors a glimpse at what a small mining town would have looked like in the early 20th century. It also honors local residents and educates visitors about the culture and traditions of the native Athabascan people.
Buildings such as the Sutton Post Office, the historic Roberts/O’Neill House, and a replica of a traditional Athabascan winter lodge showcase exhibits on coal mining, construction of the local highway, and an “old timers hall of fame.” Picnic areas and a playground are available for people who want to relax after visiting the exhibits. The park is also used for many community events since there are no other large gathering spaces in town. A group of committed volunteers work hard to maintain the park, and their care and stewardship is evident.
The Glenn Highway is the Alaska’s main connection to Canada and a popular route for tourists seeking fishing, hunting, hiking, and other outdoor activities. There have been major efforts to redevelop sites along the corridor, including Alpine Historical Park. In 2010 the park received a National Scenic Byways grant that allowed them to construct a year-round restroom. This was part of a larger effort to add new facilities such as a visitor’s center, walking trails, and interpretive signage.
The volunteers who manage Alpine Historical Park felt it was very important to have a restroom that blended in with the existing buildings and looked like it had always been there. This was a particularly high priority because the restroom would be right next to the Sutton Post Office, one of the park’s focal points.
Matching a new structure to a historic building can be challenging for most contractors, but it’s one of Romtec’s specialties. Using one of our pre-designed restroom facilities we were able to quickly and cost-effectively put together a restroom for the park. The building’s small footprint, simple wood siding and peaked roof echo the look of the post office. Volunteers chose brown paint for the building, but the brick red trim matches the shade of the neighboring structure. Lights on the outside are a modern touch that help people see on dark winter days in Alaska.
The restroom also has a storage closet that can be accessed from the back of the building. Romtec encourages customers to think about how they can use restrooms buildings to serve multiple purposes, and storage rooms are one of the most popular additions. Besides stocking essentials like toilet paper and cleaning supplies, volunteers can keep landscaping equipment and seasonal signage in the storage room.
The quality of a building is just as important as how it looks, and Romtec doesn’t cut any corners when it comes to making superior structures. We used state-of-the-art fixtures and materials able to withstand the cold, windy conditions in Alaska’s frontier. Like the historic structures within Alpine Park, this restroom will last for generations to come.