On a rainy Monday morning, the future of Independence Mine got a lot brighter.

Walter Panzirer, trustee from the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust, was on hand at the Manager's House to announce the philanthropic organization was awarding a $1.3 million grant through a partnership with the Mat-Su Trails and Parks Foundation, to rejuvenate and preserve four buildings in Independence Mine State Historical Park in Hatcher Pass. Representatives from Alaska State Parks, the Mat-Su Trails and Parks Foundation and Salmon Berry Tours were on hand for the celebration. Salmon Berry Tours is the concessionaire at Independence Mine.

The grant will allow Alaska State Parks to rejuvenate four buildings not currently open to the public, including the Mess Hall. It will also provide for extra security at the historic park, which is much needed due to recent vandalism and damage to current buildings. Currently, there are four buildings open to the public for free daily in the summer.

Work will begin in summer 2023 and possibly extend in to summer 2024 on the project. Panzirer said he hoped the grant money would encourage further investment in Independence Mine by local businesses and private donors, which will enhance the experience at the mine.

Following the announcement, Mandy Garcia from Salmon Berry Tours gave a "behind the scenes" tour and showed how the grant money will help open more buildings on the tour.

The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust is a global philanthropy committed to helping people live better lives today and creating stronger, healthier futures for individuals and communities. They partner with people and organizations to invest in new ideas or research. In 2008, The Helmsley Charitable Trust began its active grantmaking after the passing of Leona Helmsley, who left nearly all of the Helmsleys’ estate to the Trust, giving its Trustees the responsibility to decide which charitable purposes to support. Since then, Helmsley has grown from a start-up to a global philanthropy with an $8 billion endowment that works in partnership with organizations across the U.S. and select parts of the world.