In some haunted hotels, guests are frightened to come back to their rooms to find their items in disarray. In others, the spirits may feel malicious or terrifying. You may walk down the halls to see a ghostly apparition and watch it disappear in front of your eyes and maybe leave in the night out of fright. However, this allegedly haunted hotel far up in Alaska has a different opinion of their resident ghosts. They embrace them as a part of their history and charm. Today, we’re going to explore the haunted history of the Historic Anchorage Hotel, fittingly located in downtown Anchorage. 

The original Anchorage Hotel was built while Anchorage the city was still developing into a small town on the coast of Alaska in 1916. It was originally a wooden structure built out of necessity, but the owner would renovate it just a year later into a luxury hotel to serve those visiting the great northern state. The town of Anchorage grew from a small settlement into a bustling city and by 1936, the hotel had outgrown its original building, so an annex was built next to it to increase the capacity of guests it could accommodate. The two buildings were connected across an alley by a sky bridge. It continued its reputation for luxury, being one of the only places in town where residents could acquire a hot meal served on elegant china with silver utensils. 

Famous guests checked in and checked out of the hotel as they visited Anchorage, including such names as Will Rogers and Wiley Post, who stayed in the hotel only two days prior to their unfortunate deaths in a plane crash. President Warren G. Harding visited the Historic Anchorage Hotel in 1923, again very shortly after his death. While the official cause of his death is listed as a heart attack, one rumor floats around that his passing may have been hastened by food poisoning from poorly prepared shellfish somewhere on his tour of Alaska. An interesting notable guest was Walt Disney, though the nature of his visit has been lost to history. Finally, famous artist Sydney Lawrence stayed for a considerable amount of time at the hotel, once exchanging a beautiful painting of Mount McKinley for a year’s rent at the Historic Anchorage Hotel. 

By the 1950s, the opulent hotel had fallen into disrepair, struggling to survive without its previous reputation as a gem in the north. It survived a devastating earthquake in 1964, but the original building was seen as unable to be saved and was demolished shortly afterward. The building that stands today is actually the annex that was added to the hotel in the 1930s, though the history of the hotel is still carried by the gothic-style building still standing in downtown Anchorage. In 1999, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places, making it the only nationally registered historic hotel in the city. It’s opulence has returned and you can book a room on your next visit. 

When you visit the website of the hotel to make a reservation, however, a section will tell you about the hauntings that have been documented in the hotel. They are very proud of their ghosts, with some staff claiming that they feel like family once you get used to the ghosts that occasionally appear or cause trouble in the halls. The hotel even keeps a detailed “ghost log,” in which guests can record their ghostly encounters. It’s no surprise that the book is rather thick with many stories to be told. 

The most famous story from the Anchorage Hotel is that of Anchorage’s first Chief of Police, John J. “Black Jack” Sturgus. In 1921, he was found dead just a few steps from the entrance to the hotel, having been shot in the back by his own gun. The murder has remained unsolved for over a century, but Chief Black Jack still makes his presence known within the hotel nearby where he was gunned down. Rumors say that he returns every year on February 20th to the scene of his murder, possibly seeking justice for the unsolved crime. Another tragic story centered in the hotel is a legend about a jilted bride, who is alleged to have hung herself in one of the second-floor rooms after her groom failed to show up on the day of their wedding. She is said to appear in hallways as a tall and elegant woman in a white dress, and occasionally will appear in mirrors. 

Two rooms within the hotel are known to have heightened activity, Televisions in room 217 and 215 will turn on and off on their own, as will the faucets and lights. No matter how many plumbers or electricians they call, none can seem to find an earthly reason for the malfunctions. A handful of other spirits have appeared throughout the hotel, including a young boy playing with a red ball in the hallways and a young girl who will occasionally try to play games with children staying in the hotel. If you decide to stay the night, expect to have exemplary hospitality, a luxurious stay, a glimpse into the history of Anchorage, and of course, a potential entry into the ghost log of the Historic Anchorage Hotel. 

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