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Historic Anchorage Hotel

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Anchorage Hotel; Hotel Ronald Lee
1916; 1936 annex, E. Ellsworth Sedille. 4th Ave. and E St.

The Anchorage Hotel was first established in downtown Anchorage in 1916, just one year after the small settlement along the waters of Ship Creek, the Turnagain Arm, and Cook Inlet received its charter. It was one of the first wood-framed buildings in Anchorage, which at the time was still a tent city. The hotel served as a primary meeting place for the early inhabitants of Anchorage, most of whom worked for the Alaska Railroad or one of its ancillary industries. For a time, the Anchorage Hotel was the only place in town where guests could be served food on fine china with silverware. It developed a following among the railroad workers who sought more upscale offerings. By 1936, in order to meet the demand of the city's growing population due to the construction of the Alaska Railroad, an adjacent building known as the hotel annex was constructed to the south, with a skybridge connecting it to the original hotel. E. Ellsworth Sedille designed the addition at the same time he was completing Anchorage’s City Hall across the street.   

By the 1950s, following years of boom and bust economies, the Anchorage Hotel had deteriorated. In 1960 the original 1916 building was sold and subsequently demolished; the annex was renamed Hotel Ronald Lee. After several ownership changes, Bob and Carolyn Neumann purchased the hotel in 1989 and modernized and renovated the building while retaining its early-twentieth-century form. Today, the hotel is recognizable for its distinctive appearance: a stucco building with vertical piers delineating the bays.

The Anchorage Hotel has hosted several famous guests over the years. Artist Sydney Laurence stayed here while in Alaska to paint his famous landscapes. In 1935, Will Rogers and Wiley Post were visitors just days before they traveled to Alaska's Arctic Coast, where they soon perished in a tragic plane accident. The hotel is said to be haunted, harboring many of the town's darker secrets. When it was listed on National Register of Historic Places in April 1999, it was renamed the Historic Anchorage Hotel. It remains a cornerstone of downtown Anchorage and its prime location is within walking distance of restaurants, bars, shops, and the Anchorage Museum.

References

Bretz, Karen, "Anchorage Hotel Annex," Anchorage, Alaska. National Register of Historic Places Registration Form, 1999. National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior, Washington, D.C.

 

Writing Credits

Author: 
Alison K. Hoagland
Updated By: 
Ian C. Hartman (2020)
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Data

Timeline

  • 1916

    Built
  • 1936

    Annex built
  • 1960

    1916 building razed
  • 1989

    Renovated
  • 1999

    Listed on National Register of Historic Places

What's Nearby

Citation

Alison K. Hoagland, "Historic Anchorage Hotel", [Anchorage, Alaska], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—, http://sah-archipedia.org/buildings/AK-01-SC008.

Print Source

Buildings of Alaska, Alison K. Hoagland. New York: Oxford University Press, 1993, 88-88.

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