Anchorage Memories VIP Club Podcast
Anchorage Memories Podcast
Anchorage Club 25 Memories
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Anchorage Club 25 Memories

Do you know how Club 25 got started? Meet the Wendler family and the man behind Wendler Jr. High in this edition.
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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.

This edition of the Anchorage Memories VIP Club Podcast is really three stories in one.

It’s the story of the Wendler family, what would become Anchorage’s Club 25 and how Wendler Junior High School got its name.

On July 5, 1915, as the Steam Ship Mariposa made its 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.

Wendler first came to Alaska in 1909 and settled in Valdez.

But here they were on a steam ship in Cook Inlet, 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 that would become Anchorage, Alaska. And to build a home in this new and untamed land.

Welcome to what would become Anchorage

As soon as the Wendlers came ashore at Ship Creek, they had to put together a tent they could call home.

They put together two tents. One to sleep in and one they used as a kitchen and place to take their meals.

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.

BONUS

Would you like to know more about Tent City?

Take a look at this City of Anchorage, Tent City story and discover.

Yes, You can Share this Edition

And when you do, your friends and family will be so happy that they will buy you a round-trip ticket to any place you want to go… well, it could happen.

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A Grocery and General Store

Tony Wendler, and a man named 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 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 in 1920

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.

Club 25

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.

Relocation

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 Oldest

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.J. Wendler Junior High

(now Middle School)

A.J. “Tony” Wendler had a heart for the education of our Anchorage youth.

Shortly after arriving in what was then just a tent city, Wendler became active in the development of the first school in Anchorage by convincing the government to come up with $36,000 thousand dollars for the project.

He later 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.

In 1959, The A.J. Wendler Junior High School was named in his honor.

Curious about Club 25

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?

BONUS

Read more about A.J. “Tony” Wendler right now.

From our North Stars (that’s you)

After our look at the Kimura family.

Don sent us this comment:

“We knew the Kimura family well. I was more acquainted with the children of George and Kaz; Kathy, Roger, and Wayne.  We all bowled together.

I graduated from West with Kathy. Jim got me started in soil work in Anchorage.  Jim and I both got our bachelor's degrees in geology at Alaska Methodist University.  Jim and his wife Kathy both taught in the Anchorage School System. 

Nikko Garden was one of our favorite dining spots. It was where we saw the most of George and Kaz.  We also knew of Sam and his photo studio off Jewel Lake Road.”

And Dennis offered this:

“I had a friend named Chris, who, I believe, was a nephew of George. Chris was the first bar tender at Nikko Garden, and they hired me as a bus boy!I got to eat after closing with the whole staff! 

When I got married, my wife and I were gifted with dinner at Nikko! Still married 58 years later! Great people! Thanks for the memories!”

Avril shared this memory:

“I remember Nikko Gardens when I lived in Anchorage in the 70s, and yes, it was the place to go. The food was fabulous. Thank you for the wonderful story, and I look forward to going down memory lane again”. 

Connect with Mike and Mary

Club 25 and the Wendler Building have been an important part of Anchorage for many years.

Are you enjoying the Anchorage Memories VIP Club Podcast? You can send us your comments by replying to this email. Or, you can Contact Us to say., “I went to Club 25 in Anchorage.”

Until Next Time

Mike and Mary

Anchorage Memories.com

 

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Anchorage Memories VIP Club Podcast
Anchorage Memories Podcast
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