Historic Neighborhoods

Alaska Coastal Airlines Hangars

The Alaska Coastal Airlines Hangers (Merchant’s Wharf) is located in Downtown Juneau. It is situated along the coast of the mainland, nestled in Gastineau Channel between Mount Juneau and Mount Roberts. The Alaska Coastal Airlines Hanger is part of the Tidelands Historic Neighborhood.  Over the years, the building has played a vital role in the development of the City and Borough of Juneau as a warehouse facility for the Pacific Coastal Steamship Company, a hanger for the Alaska Coastal Airlines company, and as a retail facility that is still used today.  Although the cargo has changed from goods and services for the local community to that of a tourist economy, this waterfront site remains a major seaport for ships and float plans.

In 2004, given the uncertain future of the Alaska Coastal Airlines Hanger (Merchant’s Wharf) a historic property evaluation was commissioned to research the history of the structure, to document the current condition of the building, to describe changes that have been made to it the throughout the years, and to evaluate the historic significance and integrity of the building.  It was hoped this information would instill a better understanding of the role of this property in the early development of the community.


Much of the land area of the current Casey-Shattuck neighborhood was owned by William Casey who had a small dairy farm in the vicinity around the turn of the century. Henry Shattuck was an insurance broker and real estate developer. Together Casey and Shattuck developed the Casey-Shattuck subdivision which was the first addition to the original Juneau Townsite.

A 1986 historic sites and structures inventory identifies four properties of significance in the neighborhood. They are: 1) Shattuck Mansion, built by Juneau businessman Henry Shattuck; 2) Alaska Electric Light and Power Plant, constructed in 1914 on the site of an earlier power plant which burned down; 3)Evergreen Cemetery, Juneau’s municipal cemetery and burial site of Juneau’s founders Joseph Juneau and Richard Harris; and 4) Torkelson-Samuelson House, built by Olaf Torkelson who worked for the Alaska Juneau and Treadwell mines.

The boundaries of the Casey-Shattuck Neighborhood are generally Glacier Avenue on the west, the first row of properties north of Twelfth Street, Indian Street on the east, and Distin Avenue on the south side.

Chicken Ridge

The Chicken Ridge neighborhood includes properties along Basin Road, past Seventh Street, all properties along Seventh Street, most properties on Main Street above Sixth Street, all properties on Goldbelt Avenue, and all properties on Dixon Street as well as a few properties on Calhoun Avenue.

Neighborhood growth was engendered by the large mining companies and the government alike and areas such as Chicken Ridge began to be settled. The area known as the Chicken Ridge Neighborhood, which overlooks the city of Juneau, was so named by miners because of the abundance of Ptarmigan in the area. The Chicken Ridge area was staked as a placer claim in May of 1890 by five men, one of whom was John F. Maloney, who was to eventually make his home on the ridge. The neighborhood which developed on Chicken Ridge was first settled in 1893.

During this period of gold mining expansion in the form of large mining companies and the subsequent expansion of Juneau’s role in territorial government, the need for living space increased the pressure to extend settlement in Juneau. An affluent socio-economic class comprised of Juneau’s attorneys, doctors, business owners, mining executives, government employees, and politicians settled the Chicken Ridge neighborhood.

Because of the location of the city, building materials were scarce and so were skilled craftsmen to do the work. Most buildings were modest interpretations of national stylistic trends which varied only according to the amount of detailing and square footage which could be afforded by the individual owner. The Chicken Ridge Historic District is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Douglas Townsite

In December of 1880, prospectors were finding gold on the beaches of Douglas Island, across the channel from Juneau. In May of 1881, a French Canadian named Pierre “French Pete” Erussard found gold at the mouth of a creek he named Parris (later changed to Paris). He, and other prospectors, staked placer and lode claims in the area. Douglas City was established to serve the new gold mining operations.

The boundaries comprising the Douglas Townsite historic neighborhood are generally the west side of First Street to the west side of Fifth Street and the north side of H Street to an irregular line along Bradley Street connected diagonally to the right of way shown as Kinzie Street. This area represents the original platted Douglas Townsite.

The neighborhood is composed of primarily residential buildings with a few commercial buildings along 3rd Street. Most buildings are wood frame construction reflecting the available materials and local building technology. The only reinforced concrete structure is the Douglas School Gymnasium which was built in 1937. This construction method was likely influence by the higher technology brought to the area in the later years by the mining engineers.

Although many buildings in the neighborhood reference national architectural styles they were predominately modest in detailing. This is most likely a result of the economy of shipping materials to this remote part of the world and the availability of skilled craftsmen in the region.

Buildings within the Douglas Townsite neighborhood are representative of the historic socioeconomic character of the Douglas population which was predominately working class dependent on the mining industry. The neighborhood was under much developmental pressure during the turn of the century as the community grew rapidly during the period of gold mining expansion. However, the great mining boom was followed by a devastating bust with the Treadwell cave-in in 1917. Three town fires (1911, 1927, 1937) further devastated Douglas and in many ways the architectural character of the community never recovered.

The Douglas Townsite neighborhood comprises a unique area featuring examples of early period architecture reflective of the geographic and economic influences of the early development of Douglas. Although today Douglas serves primarily as a bedroom community to the Juneau workplace, its proud community spirit survives in part due to the unique historical residential character of its building environment.

Downtown Historic District

Discovery of placer gold on Gold Creek in 1880 led to the creation of the town of Juneau. Although Juneau later catered to fishermen and territorial government officials, it was development of area lode gold mines in the 1890’s that secured Juneau’s future. Commercial establishments lined Front Street, adjacent to wharves on Gastineau Channel. More permanent structures replaced the hastily erected boom town buildings. Juneau’s merchants prospered as lode gold mining operations expanded, and through the 1890’s and early 1900’s they invested in new buildings in town. Today, many buildings from 1883-1939 stand in Juneau’s Downtown Historic District. Due partly to historic district design review standards the newly constructed buildings complement the earlier buildings in size and massing.

The neighborhood has an elongated “L” shape. The boundaries of the spine of the “L” include buildings on both sides of South Franklin Street from the old ferry terminal to Second Street where the greatest number of historic buildings are found. The base of the “L” is bounded by Second Street to the northwest, Main Street on the west, a block of Front Street to the northeast, a block of Seward Street to the south , and Shattuck Way to southeast where the boundary makes several angles to include the buildings along South Franklin Street.

The Juneau downtown buildings are an excellent representation of early twentieth century commercial architecture in small Pacific coast communities. Late Victorian, Late 19th and Early 20th Century American Movements, and Modern Movement architectural styles are represented by buildings in the Juneau Downtown Historic District which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Historic Cemeteries in Douglas

The historic cemeteries in Douglas, Alaska tell a unique story of the people of the area and are deserving of recognition as such. Unfortunately, accurate records of the Douglas cemeteries are difficult to obtain due to the 1937 fire in Douglas, which destroyed the community’s important records.  Much of the records available included the fading memories of the pioneers and old newspaper clippings from the Douglas Island and Juneau newspapers.  Regrettably, the Juneau newspaper made little mention of deaths in Douglas or Treadwell unless a major accident occurred.

A 1995 historic sites and structures inventory identified three non-continuous cemetery sites on Douglas, known generally as the “Catholic Cemetery”, “Eagles Cemetery”, and the “Douglas Indian Cemetery”. All three cemeteries are located along Douglas Highway within a mile and a half of each other. While documenting the cemeteries, it was uncovered that two of the cemeteries were actually made up of a grouping of smaller cemeteries.  The “Catholic Cemetery” includes the Catholic Cemetery, the Odd Fellows Cemetery, the Masons Cemetery, the Native Cemetery, the Asian Cemetery, and the Russian Orthodox Cemetery.  The “Eagles Cemetery” is made up of the City Cemetery, the Eagles Cemetery, and the Servian Cemetery.

Historic Shipwreck Sites

The lifeline of Southeast Alaska has always been maritime travel.  The first mariners in Southeast Alaska were the Tlingit and Haida Indian tribes.  They constructed large ocean going canoes to travel long distances for trade, to visit other villages or to wage war.  Later, the region was explored by the French, Spanish, and British, but none had a larger presence than Russia.   Following the United States purchase of Alaska from Russia in 1867, steam powered ships carrying occupation troops and supplies for new settlements traveled throughout the region.  Prior to this time, the Alaska coastline was shunned by all except for explorers and traders.  The Southeast Alaska waterways were known as some of the most challenging in the world, due to treacherous tides, winds of gale strength, poor visibility, and unmarked reefs.  With these factors and the increased maritime traffic, it resulted in an increase in maritime disasters.

The arrival of air transportation was the beginning of the demise of the pioneer steamship companies.  The smaller companies soon disappeared and only larger ones, such as the Alaska Steamship Company survived.  Today, Alaska state ferries, the Coast Guard, fishing vessels, barge lines and luxury cruise liners safely navigate the waters of the inside passage.  The geography of Southeast Alaska makes it a very unique part of the world.  As a result, only three towns in the archipelago can be reached by road.  Most Southeast Alaska communities still rely heavily on the marine transportation, as they are inaccessible by road.

A 1992 historic sites and structures inventory survey identified 13 shipwrecks within the City and Borough of Juneau.  All the mishaps discussed within this document occurred in the Lynn Canal, which was a most direct route to Dyea, the gateway to the gold fields.

Indian Village

Native Village Neighborhood, circa 1900–Partridge, photographer
Alaska State Historical Library

What has come to be known as the “Indian Village” was traditionally called “Lingit Aani” by the local Tlingit people. The area was once the traditional summer village site of the Auk Tlingit Natives. The neighborhood lies within the area bounded by West Willoughby Avenue on the south, Distin Avenue on the north, Indian Street on the east, and Capital Avenue on the north. The entire neighborhood is recognized as an historic site of the Auke Village. Only a handful of historic buildings remain. These have not been surveyed and therefore are not named individually.

Juneau Townsite

The boundaries of the Juneau Townsite historic neighborhood are generally the north side of Second Street to the north side of Sixth Street and the east side of Calhoun & Main Street to the west side of Harris & Gold Street. The neighborhood is a part of the original Juneau Townsite as platted in 1881 by Navy officer Master Gustave Carl Hanus.

The neighborhood is comprised of primarily residential buildings with some commercial buildings in the area from Second Street to Fifth Street. Most buildings are wood frame construction reflecting the available materials and historic building technology. Some later structures are of reinforced concrete likely influenced by the higher technology brought to Juneau by mining engineers.

The architectural style of the historic buildings in the Juneau Townsite neighborhood can be traced to national style trends of the period. However, most are modest in detailing. This is most likely a result of the economy of shipping materials to this remote part of the world and the limited availability of skilled craftsmen in the region. Buildings in the neighborhood are truly representative of the historic socioeconomic diversity of the Juneau population at that time ranging from the finely detailed Queen Anne homes of the wealthy to the simple houses of the working class. The neighborhood was under extreme developmental pressure during the turn of the century as the community grew rapidly during the period of gold mining expansion.

The Juneau Townsite neighborhood comprises a unique historic area featuring many fine examples of early period architecture reflective of the geographic and economic influences of the early development of Juneau.

Starr Hill

As the Juneau Townsite began filling up with new development adjacent hillside lands began showing promise for expansion. One such area was just north of the original Juneau Townsite. Named for Frank Starr, the neighborhood was home to the working class of miners primarily from the Alaska Juneau Gold Mine. Starr had made some mine claims but was primarily a builder and contractor. Starr Hill was a popular neighborhood for mine workers as it was close to the mines and downtown.

The boundaries of Starr Hill comprise an area north of Harris and Gold Street and between Second Street and Sixth Street. Within this neighborhood is a small group of homes which were all built at approximately the same time and of the same design. They were built for mine employees and their families but not by the mining company but by local investors and builders. The are located on Kennedy Street and are listed on the National Register of Historic Places as the Kennedy Street Historic District.

Telephone Hill

Telephone Hill Neighborhood–overview
Telephone Hill on the left with former court house building.
Photograph by Winter & Pond, PCA87-833
Alaska State Library

Telephone Hill is located within the original Juneau Townsite and was one of the first areas claimed by early settlers. With its sweeping view of Gastineau Channel and Douglas Island, the hill has been an attraction throughout the area’s history of habitation.

This conspicuous promontory is locate on the southern portion of the area formerly known by local residents as Court House Hill. The neighborhood lies south of Third Street and is bordered by Main Street and Willoughby Avenue. The upper portion, north of Third Street, was once the location of the Government Court House until the late 1960’s. Today the State Office Building occupies the site.

In 1881 US Navy Commander Henry Glass chose the hill as a site for a military barracks. The land was declared an official government reserve and the site was utilized for a year. Construction of Juneau’s first court house took place on the hill in 1893 which prompted the name Court House Hill. The first court house was destroyed by fire in 1898. It was rebuilt in 1904 and remained on the site until razed 60 years later making room for today’s State Office Building.

The name Telephone Hill became firmly attached to the area when Edward Webster, owner of the Juneau and Douglas Telephone Company, located his business on the summit of the hill. The business remained in the Webster house until the 1950’s. Today Telephone Hill is owned by the State of Alaska whose long range plans call for demolition of the historic residences to make room for a new legislative hall building.


Tidelands Neighborhood–Currently Merchants’ Wharf,
Corner of Main Street and Egan Drive
Photo: Alaska State Historical Library

Once primarily beach lands, the tidelands neighborhood was filled with waste rock of the Alaska Juneau Gold Mine. The area is bounded by the Gastineau Channel on the east, Willoughby Avenue on the north and west, and Gold Creek on the south. The only historic building identified in the neighborhood is the Pacific Coastal Steamship Company which is commonly referred to as Merchant’s Wharf. No other historic buildings remain in the neighborhood.


Treadwell Neighborhood–Case and Draper, PCA 39-863
Alaska State Library

Rumors of the gold discoveries in the Gastineau Channel area reached San Francisco, and a group of mining investors sent John Treadwell to investigate in August of 1881. He staked some claims in Silver Bow Basin and purchased Erussard’s claims on Douglas Island. Treadwell returned to San Francisco with some ore samples that showed promise of good returns when tested. The Alaska Mill and Mining Company was soon organized with Treadwell appointed as superintendent of mining operations. He returned to Douglas in May of 1882 with a 5-stamp gold concentrating mill to test the ore on the Paris Lode claim and purchased additional adjoining claims. By 1884 a 120-stamp mill was completed, and the Treadwell mines were on their way to fame. The success of the first development drew hundreds of prospectors to the area. In 1889 the recently incorporated Alaska Treadwell Gold Mining Company bought out all investors, including John Treadwell, for $4,000,000.

In the early 1890’s two mining companies initially financed by the Treadwell Company were incorporated, the Alaska Mexican Gold Mining Company and the Alaska United Gold Mining Company. Each of the three companies was financially separate, but the Treadwell Company managed all of them. The Treadwell mines pioneered in the field of low cost mining and the use of hydroelectric power. The power was used to convert all of the steam-run hoists and mills into economical electrically driven machines. Under the guidance of Frederick .W. Bradley, world famous mining engineer, the Treadwell complex reached peak capacity in 1915. Over 2,000 men worked above and below the ground and supplied the mills with 5,000 tons of ore daily, which was a world record at that time. The mills and mines ran 24 hours a day seven days a week, except for the Fourth of July and Christmas. The Treadwell complex which included four major mines consisting of the Treadwell, 700-Foot, Mexican, and Ready Bullion, was a first class, innovative mining and milling operation that spanned 36 years until 1917 when a disastrous cave-in flooded all but the Ready Bullion mine which ran until 1922. Fortunately no lives were lost, but one man was reported missing. From a simple beginning of the discovery of placer gold in a creek, grew a world famous mining and milling complex commonly referred to as “Treadwell.”

The Treadwell neighborhood is immediately south of the original Douglas Townsite and includes the area historically known as the Treadwell Mine and Town sites. The neighborhood is composed of residential buildings as well as a ruins of mining structures and buildings. Most buildings are wood frame construction reflecting the available materials and historic building technology. The few reinforced concrete structures included in the survey are located within the Treadwell Mining Complex and were influenced by the higher technology brought to Juneau by the mining engineers. Although many buildings in the neighborhood reference the period architectural style they are predominately modest in detailing.