Anchorage Club 25
A popular cafe' and bar in the 1940s and 50s... for Anchorage women only. The iconic Club 25 began as "Larson and Wendler Grocery" back in 1915. Check out this edition.
Anchorage’s Club 25
For residents and visitors alike, the building in the picture above is a familiar site in Anchorage’s downtown area of 4th Avenue.
But our story doesn’t begin here.
On July 5, 1915, as the Steam Ship Mariposa made it’s way into Cook Inlet. Passengers were greeted by the sight of unspoiled wilderness… and the feeling of excitement for what they would find just ahead of them at the mouth of Ship Creek.
On board the Mariposa was Anton J. “A.J” or “Tony” Wendler, his wife Florence and their daughters, Myrtle and Clarice.
The Wendler family was about to join the early settlers of a “tent city” that had sprung up along the banks of Ship Creek. Most were there to build and work on the Alaska Railroad.
Everyone else was there to make a living serving the growing community and to build a home in this new and untamed land.
Welcome to what would become Anchorage.
After coming ashore, the Wendler’s home in tent city consisted of two tents. One tent to sleep in and one tent to eat in.
The surroundings were crude at best.
Tree stumps were everywhere. It was muddy, dirty and everyone had to haul water from Ship Creek. The Kimura family, who ran “H&M Hand Laundry”, said that clothing they were given to wash by the early residents was full of lice.
Read more about Tent City in 1915 right now.
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A Grocery and General Store
Tony Wendler, and Ray T. Larson quickly put together a wooden frame and tent structure where they operated a grocery and general store.
Ray Larson may have previously partnered with Wendler and that the two had come up on the Mariposa together, bringing the necessary supplies to open their grocery and general store. We don’t know. But it sounds likely.
July 10, 1915
Just 5 days after they first landed in tent city, the Wendlers purchased a lot on the Southwest corner of 4th Avenue and I Street for 555 dollars.
Late that same summer, they built the first grocery store in Anchorage.
It was called “Larson & Wendler Grocery”.
The store included living quarters for the Wendler family.
5 Years Later
Tony Wendler went to work for the Alaskan Engineering Commission as the supervisor of the Cold Storage Department. The Alaska Engineering Commission later became the Alaska Railroad.
That same year in 1920, “Larson & Wendler Grocery” was closed.
Following the close of the store, Florence Wendler turned the building into a boarding house.
The grocery store closed in 1920.
In 1948, Florence and her daughters decided that what the town needed, was a club for women only. An upscale, elegant and private get away for the women of Anchorage.
Not to worry guys… men were later welcomed.
Club 25 was considered one of Anchorage’s finest restaurants for nearly 30 years.
Myrtle Wendler Stalnaker owned and operated Club 25 until 1982.
Originally located at 4th and I Streets, where the Captain Cook Hotel is now located, the Wendler Building (Club 25) was relocated in 1985 to its current location at 400 D. Street.
The Wendler Building is the oldest commercial building in Anchorage.
The Alaska Centennial Commission dedicated this plaque to the Wendler Building in 1976.
The Wendler Building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1988.
A Great Day to Share Anchorage Memories
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A.J. Wendler Junior High
(now Middle School)
As you have read this edition of Anchorage Memories VIP Newsletter, you have no doubt recognized the name “Wendler”. You may have even attended Wendler Junior High… now a “middle school”.
A.J. “Tony” Wendler had a heart for the education of our Anchorage youth, and shortly after arriving in what was then just a tent city, Wendler became a member of the first School Board in Anchorage.
From 1915 to 1916, Wendler was also the first president of the Chamber of Commerce.
After reading this, do you have a new respect for Club 25 and the Wendler Building?
As a boy and a young man, passing by the building, I was always fascinated by the way it looked, and I was curious about its origins… Now we know.
Did you ever go into Club 25 or have dinner there?
Read more about A.J. “Tony” Wendler right now.
The Steam Ship Mariposa was ship wrecked on Fitz Hugh Sound after hitting the Straits Island reef off the coast of British Columbia on October 5,1915…
In the picture above, passengers are being rescued and brought ashore.
That’s right, just 3 months after it carried the Wendler family to Ship Creek, the SS Mariposa was ship wrecked.
Take a look at this information, including famous passengers of the SS Mariposa and discover.
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Until Next Time
Mike and Mary