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Pioneer School

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1915. Third and Eagle streets

The Pioneer School, the first school in Anchorage and the only remaining early public building, was constructed by the Alaska Engineering Commission in 1915. As an arm of the U.S. government, the AEC did not intend to get into the education business, but because Anchorage was not empowered to govern or tax itself, it was left to the AEC to provide a school as part of its mission to make the townsites appealing places to settle. The two-story, hip-roofed structure measures 58 feet by 30 feet and was designed to house ninety pupils in two classrooms per floor. The original entrance was in the middle of the long side, opening into a hall and stairway. The $5,000 contract was given to builders Parsons and Russell.

The burgeoning population of Anchorage rendered the school inadequate almost immediately. In addition, the school had no running water and did not meet the town's own standards for sanitation. By the fall of 1917, enrollment stood at two hundred, and a new school was built for $12,000.

The first school, which had originally stood on the School Reserve, the block bounded by Fifth and Sixth avenues and F and G streets, was moved across the street to the corner of Sixth Avenue and E Street. After installation of two new entrances—one at the end and the other a diagonal one in the opposite end—and new windows, it served as the social hall of the Pioneers of Alaska, Igloo 15, until 1964.

After the 1964 earthquake, the school was moved to its present site in Crawford Park. Set on a steep slope, the building now has a basement level, visible at the rear. An additional stairway was constructed on the interior, and the walls, floors, and ceilings have new coverings. The original room arrangement—essentially three equal spaces per floor (hallway flanked by classrooms)—has long been lost. The building serves as a public meeting hall.

Writing Credits

Author: 
Alison K. Hoagland
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Citation

Alison K. Hoagland, "Pioneer School", [Anchorage, Alaska], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—, http://sah-archipedia.org/buildings/AK-01-SC020.

Print Source

Buildings of Alaska, Alison K. Hoagland. New York: Oxford University Press, 1993, 93-94.

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