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Visiting Downtown Ketchikan, Alaska: The Gilmore Building, Dating From 1926/27, Dominating Front Street

Updated on February 11, 2020
State flag of Alaska
State flag of Alaska | Source
The historic Gilmore Building in Ketchikan, Alaska from the east channel of the Tongass Narrows.
The historic Gilmore Building in Ketchikan, Alaska from the east channel of the Tongass Narrows. | Source

Remembering Judge Patrick J. Gilmore

[This short hubpage concentrates on a few historical and architectural aspects of this building. For information regarding the services provided by the fine hotel housed in the building, contact should be made directly with its management.]

In the early 20th century, a significant proportion of the buildings in the Downtown are of Ketchikan, Alaska, suffered destruction or damage by fire. The Gilmore Building, which occupies a dominant location on Front Street (see the 'bird's eye' view in the photo, below), is in fact among the few of Ketchikan's commercial buildings dating from the 1920s to have survived.

Built 1926/27, this three-storey building is named for prominent local businessman and representative Patrick J. Gilmore (c.1876-1957). Originally from Galway, Ireland, he originally worked in North America for a San Francisco-based business, and soon made Ketchikan, Alaska his home, where he was to work and serve in a number of capacities over several decades.

Among his public roles were as a municipal representative for four terms from 1910 on Ketchikan City Council; he served as Mayor from 1933 until 1935. He was a member of Ketchikan School Board from 1924 until 1930. He also served as a delegate to the Alaska Territorial Convention, held in Juneau in 1912, which prepared for Alaska's first territorial Legislature. Judge Gilmore, as he was known, also served as U. S. Commissioner and Judge of the Probate Court for the First Judicial District from 1944 until 1952 (1).

Patrick J. Gilmore also had a number of business interests in Ketchikan; he was known as the proprietor of a clothing firm, the co-founder of various, other businesses, including the Miners and Merchants Bank; in 1926/27 he sponsored the building of the Gilmore Hotel; the Hotel remained a Gilmore family business until 1975 (2).

At its inception, the First City — as Ketchikan has long been known — was undergoing a period of rapid growth, and the Gilmore Hotel was soon fulfilling a key business service in the municipality. Its ground floor included a café advertised as being open all night (for several years if its early existence the Hotel operated when Prohibition was in force). Today, the hotel's restaurant is known for its seafood specialties.

Executed in reinforced concrete, the building was designed by C. Frank Mahon of Seattle, Wash., and built by Seattle's Hoard Engineering Company. Its foundations are noted for being set concrete on solid rock, unlike at certain other buildings in Ketchikan. The Front Street elevation has three sets of four double hung windows on both the second and third floors; the ground floor has three storefronts (some of which originally operated separately from the hotel) with a canopy — itself below transom windows — above all three fronts. Approximately the central third of a parapet roof displays the words 'Gilmore Hotel' in conspicuous letters; a metal cornice extends across the width of the upper level of the frontage.

Essentially, Parick J. Gilmore thrived in business and politics at a time when Ketchikan was a boom city; the Gilmore Hotel is arguably his most conspicuous monument.

The Gilmore Hotel, included in the National Register of Historic Places in the United States, is situated at 326 Front Street, Ketchikan, Alaska.

February 11, 2020


(1) See also:

(2) See also:

Downtown Ketchikan, Alaska
Downtown Ketchikan, Alaska | Source

Also worth seeing

In Ketchikan itself, visitors to the city often frequent the many gift stores specializing in Native Alaskan and other artwork; First Lutheran Church in Newtown was built in 1930 principally on account of the city's Norwegian population; St. John's Episcopal Church dates from 1904; the city is well known for its totem poles; 'The Rock' is a remarkable, historical sculpture by Dave Rubin; nearby Deer Mountain overlooks the City.

Misty Fiords National Monument (distance: 64 kilometres / 40 miles), governed by the US Forest Service, consists of 9,246 km2 / 2,294,343 acres of often near vertical glacial valleys, some of which rise to 600 to 900 metres / 2,000 to 3,000 feet above sea level and descend to 300 metres / 1000 feet below it; boat and floatplane tours [NB: Please check the FAA status of these floatplane tours] are organized from Ketchikan.

How to get there

Alaska Airlines and Delta Connection fly to Ketchikan International Airport, (distance — travel via ferry — from Downtown Ketchikan: 2 kilometres / 1.43 miles) from Seattle/Tacoma, WA, with wide North American connections; Princess Cruises and other cruise companies offer services to Ketichikan, often on a seasonal basis; some facilities may be withdrawn without notice. You are advised to refer to appropriate consular sources for any special border crossing arrangements which may apply to citizens of certain nationalities.

MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada

Map location of Ketchikan Gateway Borough, Alaska, United States Source: User:David Benbennick, User:Dbenbenn, public domain,
Map location of Ketchikan Gateway Borough, Alaska, United States Source: User:David Benbennick, User:Dbenbenn, public domain, | Source

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