Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Alaska's Anchorage Hotel

The original Anchorage Hotel was built in 1916 at the corner of 3rd Avenue and E Street.  In 1936, the growing population of Anchorage called for an expansion of the hotel, and an annex was built across the alley.  A sky bridge connected the two structures.

For years, the Anchorage Hotel was a center of opulence and social activity.  Many notable figures dined and lodged at the hotel, which at one time, was the only place in Anchorage where one could dine on fine china and with linen table clothes and napkins. 

As time went on, the original building was sold, and eventually torn down, and the Annex was allowed to fall into a state of neglect.  In 1989, new owners took over, and by 1994 had completely restored the aging hotel.  It is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and has returned to its original state of grandeur.

By most standards, the hotel is fairly small, with only three floors...but those three floors are packed with ghost stories!  There are so many ghost stories associated with the hotel that the staff now keep a log book of visitor ghost sightings.

The second floor seems to be the most active area of the hotel.  It isn't uncommon for curtains to rumble, and shower curtains to sway back and forth.  Televisions turn themselves off and on, as do the bathroom faucets.  Rooms 215 and 217 are allegedly the most active rooms on the second floor, with many guests reporting activity from these areas.

Lately, there have been reports of the sound of children running up and down the halls at night.  Guests will call down to the lobby to complain, only to be told there are no children registered in the hotel for the night.  Another newer occurrence seems to concentrate on the stairwell area.  Staff will often hear footsteps going up and down the staircase at night, and several have even witnessed the apparition of a man coming down, only to vanish.

Of the many ghost sightings and miscellaneous paranormal activity, the hotel seems to have two distinguished and well known ghosts.  The first is that of a jilted lover from the 1920s.  A woman preparing to be wed was staying at the hotel when her fiance struck it rich in the gold mining industry.  The newly made millionaire stood the woman up on her wedding day.  In her grief, she hanged herself in her wedding dress in a room on the second floor.  She is now seen wandering throughout the hotel halls in her wedding dress, but most frequently on the second floor.

The second most recognized ghost is that of John J. Sturgus.  Sturgus was the first sheriff of Anchorage.  On Sunday, February 20, 1921, the sheriff was shot in the chest by an unknown assailant and was found in the rear stairwell of a local drugstore, located off the alley between the hotel, and where the new annex would one day be built.  He was 60 years old, and died on route to the hospital.  He was buried four days later in the Anchorage Cemetery.  The crime was never solved, and its said that the ghost of Sheriff Sturgus is a frequent visitor to the hotel.

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