Harry Phillips and his Saloons

Peerless Saloon

Harry Phillips came to Skagway in 1898 and opened the Peerless Saloon on 4th Avenue mid block, south side, between Broadway and State which is now a small residence off of the alley. The Peerless only was in business for about a year and then Harry moved to Dawson and opened the Office Bar and Saloon with his wife Annie. By 1901 he was 34 and she was 27 but they had no kids. Perhaps he met her in Skagway or Dawson. After that, I can find no trace of them, perhaps they moved back down south (they were both born in the U.S.) In the photo above he would be the proud owner, but which one is he? any guesses?

1901 Dawson census; Catherine Spude, The Mascot Saloon, NPS; Alaska Digital Archives;

The saving of Skagway City Hall


I read recently in our local newspaper that the city had quietly decided to purchase the old city hall on 5th Avenue which had been for sale for some time. Like many old buildings it had fallen into disrepair and being in the historic district, it would require extensive work to make it usable as a business, yet would be under many restrictions since it is a historical building. So I am so glad that the city has purchased it and will see that it is preserved in the same manner and with the same care that the Park Service has maintained the other historical buildings downtown. Seen above is the building as photographed by the Park Service, Karl Gurcke, in 2003. Seen below is the only interior photo taken by Hegg in 1898 showing the great leaders of town in discussions. George Brackett is on the far right with the long beard.

mid-century photo of Skagway

A cool photo from the 1950-60’s shows the Mission School with the 5 long buildings in the middle of the picture. I put a little red arrow pointing to the location of our house (for sale, by the way). Two blocks south of the Mission School, is the old Skagway School building on what is now the field next to the Rec Center. Although the Catholic Church still owns the property between Main and State and 15th and 17th, it is leased to someone who runs the Garden City RV park. Over the years there has been talk of the Municipality buying the property from the Catholic Church. My personal opinion is that it should be bought and developed as a large housing complex with units designed for all levels of income – efficiencies to 3 bedroom units. A good architect could make a beautiful project that would really enhance the town. As it is now, the RV park is half filled with old trailers that seasonal workers live in during the summer. During the winter when anyone is coming to town to work there are no homes to rent since many are boarded up. In the summer, the housing crunch is terrible with many just living in the woods in a wet soggy tent.

Golden North Hotel

I received this photo of the landing upstairs in the Golden North Hotel from a visitor who said he had stayed here in 2001. He said it was a pleasure to sit and read here and talk with the other people staying here. Although the furnishings are all still in place, the hotel no longer hosts guests. Downstairs, the restaurant and bar have been replaced with jewelry and souvenir stores. I have often enjoyed a sandwich and latte at the Glacial Smoothees shop across the street and looked up at that big double window and wondered what was behind it!

P.S. It has not been a hotel for many years, the only guests are ones that never checked out……Whoooooooo!


photo credit to William Mann


Years ago Lep let me borrow his really cool bicycle like this one. Fortunately I did not fall on my face, but it was really exhilarating!!

Lowney’s Bon Bons

A couple of years ago my son found this odd little piece of metal in the dirt in the alley. I’ve had it stuck by tape on my desk since then thinking I would research it one of these days. Anyway, this summer we finally did a search and found that it is actually the flattened bowl of a Lowney’s bon bon spoon.
Lowney’s made delicious chocolates and candy in the late 1800’s. They had their own buildings at both the Chicago (1893) and Buffalo (1901) World’s Fairs.
Some people collect their memorabilia, but I wonder what the bon bons tasted like! Did someone buy them at Mrs. Rapuzzi’s Washington fruit and candy store?

Secret Map

Having lived in Skagway for over a decade I was surprised to learn that some people had not heard the story that the front of AB Hall is actually a secret map to a gold mine. Despite the thousands of pictures taken every summer, no one has yet figured it out.

common knowledge