Matanuska Colony Community Center (Palmer Historic District) – Palmer AK


What is now the Palmer Alaska Historic District was founded in 1935 as the Matanuska Colony Project. It was one of 100 New Deal resettlement programs and involved major efforts by FERA and the Resettlement Administration. The town site of Palmer expanded rapidly with the relocation of 203 colonists from Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin in 1935 under the Relocation project.  Prior to that the area was composed of homesteads primarily. The Palmer Historical Society has a Colony House Museum that is a ‘house’ as it would have been in 1935-1945.  It is an original colony house moved into the historic district.

A registration form of the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) describes formal characteristics of the district: “Within the boundaries of the Matanuska Colony Community Center there are twenty-seven buildings, one site, two structures, and one object. They stand in a nine block area in the City of Palmer. Eighteen buildings, two structures, and one site are contributing properties in the historic district. […]

The contributing properties were built between 1935 and 1940 as part of the Federal Emergency Relief Administration’s (FERA) Matanuska Colony rural rehabilitation project. A non-profit organization, the Alaska Rural Rehabilitation Corporation (ARRC) incorporated to implement the plan. Centered around a quadrangle, the integrated community center reflects early community and land use planning. The community center buildings originally shared many of the same building elements. One to three stories in height, all buildings were frame construction and most had rectangular floor plans.”

The Matanuska Colony Community Center consists of the following properties listed in the National Register of Historic Places:

  1. Water Tower (AHRS Site No. ANC-747).
  2. Warehouse (AHRS Site No. ANC-711).
  3. Cannery/Creamery (AHRS Site No. ANC-478, later known as Mat-Maid Building).
  4. Alaska Railroad Siding (AHRS Site No. ANC-755).
  5. Chicken Hatchery (AHRS Site No. ANC-480).
  6. Palmer Depot (AHRS Site No. ANC-089).
  7. ARRC Administration Office (AHRS Site No. ANC-690).
  8. Beauty/Barber/Cobbler Shops (AHRS Site No. ANC-479).
  9. Trading Post (AHRS Site No. ANC-477).
  10. Central School (Borough Building, AHRS Site No. ANC-483).
  11. Quadrangle Site (AHRS Site No. ANC-754).
  12. Dormitory (AHRS Site No. ANC-481).
  13. School Superintendent’s House (AHRS Site No. ANC-693).
  14. Manager’s House (AHRS Site No. ANC-692).
  15. Accountant’s House (AHRS Site No. ANC-694).
  16. Staff House #1 (AHRS Site No. ANC-751).
  17. Staff House #2 (AHRS Site No. ANC-695).
  18. Staff House #3 (AHRS Site No. ANC-696).
  19. Staff House #4 (AHRS Site No. ANC-698).
  20. (a & b) United Protestant Church and Parsonage (AHRS Site No. ANC-248).


Source notes

Project submitter Sheri Hamming is the president of the Palmer Historical Society.

National Register of Historic Places Registration Form for the Matanuska Colony Community Center, accessed on June 14, 2017.

Wikipedia Page for the Matanuska Colony Community Center, accessed on June 14, 2017.

Matanuska Colony Community Center/Historic District, accessed on June 14, 2017.

History of the Matanuska Colony Community Center, accessed on June 14, 2017.

Project originally submitted by Sheri Hamming on November 19, 2013.

We welcome contributions of additional information on any New Deal project site.

Location Info

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316 E Elmwood
Palmer, AK 99645

Coordinates: 61.598635, -149.109731

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