YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK – The front of the postcard is a picture perfect photograph of three bears from Yellowstone National Park huddled close to one another.

On the back of the card, postmarked in 1931, a boy recalls his adventures in the park.

“Dear Dad. These bears are pests. One of them came into the cabin while I was writing and stole a bunch of eggs before I could chase it. Jimmy.”

A replica of that postcard, which features the photography of one of Yellowstone's first official photographers, Jack Ellis Haynes, is one of a handful of postcards visitors to the Old Faithful Haynes Photo Shop can flip through.

It's just one of the many pieces of park history on display in the historic building, which reopened last summer to house the Yellowstone Park Foundation.

This summer, however, the foundation celebrated the modernity of the historic structure, which earned Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Gold Certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.

“We were pleasantly surprised,” said Karen Kress, president of the Yellowstone Park Foundation. “We thought it was very important that we be a model for other places in the national park system.”

The structure, which was built in 1927 and housed in at least four different locations in Yellowstone, was renovated with many modern and environmentally friendly features.

With its recent certification, the Haynes Photo Shop became the first historic building in the park to earn such a distinction.

The building itself uses the original structure, windows and exterior materials. The walkway leading up to the shop is made of recycled glass.

Inside the historic building, salvaged and recycled materials sourced from regional manufacturers are used for things like interior finishes, ceramic tiles and recycled glass countertops.

Sensors activated by people in the building control both the lights as well as the heating systems.

“There were a lot of challenges trying to modernize the building while maintaining the historic nature of it,” said Vic Sawyer, photo shop manager.

Construction on the building, 1,550 square feet with a 650-square-foot addition, began in September 2012. Its grand opening was nearly a year ago, on June 21, 2013. All told, the project cost $2.1 million.

“This was a great opportunity to restore a historic building,” Kress said.

Having a permanent space within the boundaries of Yellowstone National Park has also proved fruitful for the foundation. Kress reported increases in both donations, saying the shop brought in more than $25,000 in donations in its first few months.

Today, the Haynes Photo Shop features six interactive kiosks that describe the work of the Yellowstone Park Foundation as well as displays showing the history and photography of Frank Jay Haynes and his son, Jack E. Haynes. There is also a photo booth where visitors can take their pictures in front of large reproductions of Haynes postcards.

Sawyer, who has worked in Yellowstone for 11 summers and is spending his first as photo shop manager, said the season has brought many curious visitors to the shop. Sawyer mentioned one visitor who came to Yellowstone specifically to see the shop.

“I've heard nothing but really great feedback,” Sawyer said.

Right now, the shop features photos and history of its namesake – Frank Jay Haynes.

“He cared deeply about Yellowstone,” Sawyer said.

In addition to connecting visitors to the Yellowstone Park Foundation and providing some of the park's rich history, its location facing Old Faithful is just another reason Sawyer says guests should stop in.

“It's just an excellent, really fun way to wait out the geyser,” Sawyer said.

Whitney Bermes can be reached at or 582-2648. Follow her on Twitter at @wabermes.

Whitney Bermes covers cops and courts for the Chronicle.