Points of Interest in the Borough of Sitka
Sentinel of a Divided Town
The replica blockhouse before you, a symbol of Russia's role in Alaska's history, represents the walled fortifications that defined the limits of its control.
These blockhouses, or watchtowers, each housing cannons, protected the Russian sentries from wind and rain as they guarded Novo-Archangelsk (present day Sitka).
Originally the Russians built capital D-shaped five-sided blockhouse on this site facing up Sitka Channel. It overlooked the gate between the Russian outpost and the adjacent Tlingit village. An octagonal blockhouse stood within sight of the crest of the hill, while at the far eastern end of the wall stood a small, square blockhouse by the stream flowing out of Swan Lake.
Maps indicate that the small, square blockhouse was removed soon after the 1867 transfer of Alaska from Russia to America. Badly rotted, the D-shaped blockhouse was dismantled in 1899, and the octagonal one was dismantled in 1921.
In 1926 civic-minded citizens, including the Alaska Native Brotherhood, raised funds and built an octagonal reproduction blockhouse at Sitka National Monument. After decay attacked that structure, a second octagonal reproduction was built at this site in 1962.
Source: Interpretive placard at the site.