Anchorage Hidden Memories
You'll enjoy these somewhat hard-to-find, “hidden” memories from early Anchorage.
You know the Empress Theatre was the first movie house in Anchorage.
The Picture above shows the Harmony Movie Theatre in 1917, located at 414 West 4th Avenue. Anchorage Memories is still looking for more information about this movie house.
Notice on the left side of the picture is the Bank of Alaska and on the right side appears to be a bowling Alley.
Arriving in Early Anchorage
The following quote is from the memoirs of Frank Olin Berry, and it was taken from Senior Voice, “Early Anchorage Remembered” by Dianne Barske.
“Dock facilities in Anchorage were inadequate for the Mariposa (steamship), so scows were sent out in the channel for debarking. If the tide happened to be out, the scows stopped and the passengers would slog on foot through the inlet mud to the shore.”
“It was cold that winter, working in the railroad yards. Walking up C Street hill after work, we noticed the air became warmer. Once reaching 4th Avenue, the temperature was 10 to 20 degrees warmer – thus we called it the Banana Belt.
"Our mainstay for energy during the cold winter months was syrup; we put it on everything, including steak, potatoes and bread. Our one-room cabin had a built-in bed, but no springs or mattress. We used blankets and woke up many mornings with frost on the inner walls of the cabin.”
“In 1915 Anchorage was a tent city clustered around the railroad the government was building. The city was surveyed the same year, but by 1916 Anchorage had moved up the hill. It was a real town with wooden sidewalks, many stores and two theatres – the Empress and the Harmony. The movies changed three times a week, and the townspeople attended practically every time.”
“Gramophones were being sold at Eckmans located at 4th and K streets. Soft drinks for the family were offered by the Concord Grape Depot, who specialized in concord grapes, wild cherry and apple cider. The U.G. Crocker Store was selling tents, mattresses and bedding at 815 4th Avenue. Two bowling alleys kept the men in trim. It was not considered a ladies' sport, and bowling alleys were also pool halls that catered to men only.”
To read more, check out “Early Anchorage Remembered” right now.
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For Anchorage Women Only
Originally built in 1915 as Larson & Wendler Grocery.
In 1948, Florence Wendler and her daughters, opened “Club 25” which was a club for Anchorage women only. later, the club opened to men as well.
The Wendler’s daughter, Myrtle Wendler-Stalnaker, operated Club 25 for nearly forty years until 1982.
You can learn more about the Wendler family right now.
You May Have Played on This One
Photo by John Platt, courtesy Nancy Platt-Bidwell
The steam engine pictured above is locomotive 556 along Turnagain Arm on a cold day in December 1951.
Photo by Jeff Childs
Here is Steam Engine Locomotive 556 at it’s now long-time place in the Park Strip.
Did you, your children or grandchildren play on this train?
Mike and Mary of Anchorage Memories played here with their brothers and sisters. Great memories.
First Anchorage Public Library
From “Our History”, Anchorage Public Library.
In October 1922, a group of private citizens formed the Anchorage Public Library Association (APLA), naming Rev. Burdette Landsdowne president and Frank Bartholomew librarian.
The newly-formed association’s original thought was to hold joint occupancy of the old Elks Building with the American Legion.
An alternate plan was adopted, as free library space was offered in the rear of Bolte’s Hardware. On December 8, 1922, the Anchorage Public Library opened with 820 books on the shelves. For $1 per year adults who were property owners could buy library memberships; children’s cards were free. Renters could obtain the $1 cards if two property owners signed the registration form, and transients were allowed borrowing privileges for $2, half of which was refunded if all books were returned when the visitor left Anchorage
The following is a PDF download.
To learn more, check out History of the Anchorage Public Library right now.
Anchorage’s First Fire Department
Photo by Frank Berry
Pictured above is the first Fire Department in Anchorage. Located on F Street between 4th and 5th Avenues.
First Telephone Exchange
Henry Emard brought the first telephone exchange to Anchorage in 1914.
Emard also built the original Anchorage Hotel.
Built in 1916, the Anchorage Hotel was the first wooden building in the new town.
It was a two story “high rise” in its day.
First Church Building in Anchorage
Built in 1915, this building was the beginning of Holy Family Cathedral in Anchorage.
Summer Around Anchorage
In the picture above, Mary of Anchorage Memories cooks up some hot dogs for daughter Nikki and son Christopher near Eagle River. Mike of Anchorage Memories is behind the camera waiting for his hot dog. He’s still waiting.
Did you enjoy these “Anchorage Hidden Memories”?
You can send your comments, suggestions for a newsletter, or you can say, “Hey, I want a hot dog too!” Just reply to this email or Contact Us right now.
Until Next Time
Mike and Mary