Anchorage Lorene Harrison Memories
You are about to meet an incredible Anchorage pioneer. This Anchorage Memories VIP Newsletter is a must read.
Meet Anne Lorene Cuthbertson Harrison
She first came to Anchorage in 1928. And Anchorage was never the same.
It all began in the late summer of 1928 when Lorene arrived in Anchorage by train from Seward to teach home economics and music to Anchorage High School students.
At the time, the population of Anchorage was around 2,500 and Lorene described the town as “rough and tumble”.
December 14, 1928
Under the direction of Lorene, her high school students performed Anchorage’s first operetta, “Miss Cherry Blossom” at the Empress movie theatre on 4th Avenue.
The production was a big hit with the Anchorage audience.
But on that December night, something else significant occurred. Lorene met her future husband, Jack F. Harrison, a big game guide.
First Presbyterian Church of Anchorage
In 1934, Lorene Harrison became the Director of the First Presbyterian Church choir, a position she held for nearly 30 years.
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Hello Anchorage Glee Club
In 1935, Lorene organized the Women’s Community Glee Club and in 1936, she organized the Men’s Community Glee Club.
The two clubs combined to give Christmas Concerts at the Elks Club.
The 1936 Fur Rendezvous enjoyed musical entertainment put together by Lorene.
1938 Brings an Anchorage First
Lorene and the First Presbyterian Church Choir brought Seattle soprano, Margaret Bowen to Anchorage to perform.
Margaret Bowen was the first outside artist to perform in Anchorage.
Radio Days in the 1930s
Anchorage and Alaska’s first radio station, KFQD, featured Lorene Harrison singing once a week. Her show was sponsored by Hewitt’s Drugstore.
You probably know that an Alaska school student named Benny Benson designed the Alaska flag.
But did you know this?
In 1938, a poem by Marie Drake titled “Alaska’s Flag” was put to music by Elinor Dusenbury.
In 1941, Lorene Harrison composed the four-part vocal arrangement for Alaska’s State song, “the Alaska Flag” song. Benny Benson became friends with Harrison.
Then, Dusenbury’s musical score, Drake’s poem and Harrison’s four-part arrangement made its debut at the 1941 Fur Rendezvous.
Anchorage’s First USO Building
In 1941, Anchorage’s first USO building (the large log cabin pictured above) was opened at the corner of 5th Avenue and G street. Lorene Harrison was the Musical Director.
Pictured above is Lorene Harrison leading a weekly “Sing-A-Long” at the USO.
The Hat Box
As if she didn’t have enough to do, in 1948, Lorene opened a millinery shop called the “Hat Box” at 429 G street in downtown Anchorage. Her shop sold ladies fashionable hats.
To stock her shop, Lorene spent a month sewing forty hats.
The Hat Box opened on August 17, 1948.
By 4:00pm on her opening day, there was not a single hat left in her store.
Anchorage’s First Local Women’s TV Show
Long before Theda Comstock and Norma Goodman, Lorene Harrison hosted Anchorage’s first daily women’s TV show.
From 1954 to 1958, “Lorene’s Scrapbook” was seen on KFIA-TV channel 2 (KFIA later became KENI-TV, now KTUU).
Her Last Business
It was located in the University Mall in midtown Anchorage, and it was called “Lorene’s”.
At the age of 72, she sold the store in 1978.
Her 100th Birthday
In the picture above, Lorene can be seen conducting at a gala concert in her honor at the Alaska Center for the Performing Arts.
Lorene Harrison and 1,700 people were in attendance.
An Amazing Anchorage Memory
Anne Lorene Cuthbertson Harrison passed away on October 21, 2005, at the Anchorage Pioneers’ Home. She was laid to rest in the Anchorage Memorial Park Cemetery.
One of her friends wrote this about her:
“Her record of creative achievement seems beyond the limits of any one individual”
All of This and Much, Much More.
There are so many more things that can be told here. Lorene Harrison was a remarkable person.
To learn more, check out Lorene Harrison Anchorage Pioneer and enjoy.
What Are Your Lorene Harrison Memories?
This look at Anchorage Pioneer Lorene Harrison has been a wonderful journey for Mary and Mike here at Anchorage Memories. How about you? Tell us about your memories of Lorene Harrison.
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Until Next Time
Mike and Mary