Pantheon and the Red Front Building

Modern photo of group of brightly colored buildings with mountain background Modern photo of group of brightly colored buildings with mountain background

Left image
Red Front building and Pantheon Saloon, 2016
Credit: NPS photo/K. Pontius

Right image
Pantheon Saloon, 1982
Credit: NPS HABS photo/J. Lowe

pantheon red front sm
Left:  the Red Front building.  Right: The Pantheon Saloon

NPS image

In boom towns such as Skagway, buildings frequently changed hands as individual fortunes waxed and waned. Entrepreneurs came to town, made money, and left, selling their businesses to others looking to capitalize on the Klondike Gold Rush. The Pantheon Saloon and the Red Front were reused in this way, and the buildings' restoration are examples of adaptive rehabilitation and reconstruction.
hotel rosalie ad 300

Advertisement from the Skagway News, November 29, 1897.

Hotel Rosalie
Photographs taken in September 1897 show a one-and-a-half story wood frame structure on the corner of Broadway and 4th Avenue with a sign on the front that says "Hotel Rosalie." Built quickly and cheaply, the Hotel Rosalie was started by businessmen looking to capitalize on the gold rush. Despite their advertising, the 'hotel' was not divided into rooms; instead, stampeders crowded into the 18' by 28' hotel and slept and ate en masse. Later that fall, the owners had transferred their business to a new location and sold the building.


Brownell's Hardware and Fasel's Pioneer Paint
In 1898, a new business took over the former Hotel Rosalie - Brownell's Hardware Store. Brownell extensively remodeled the former hotel, putting in a false front, large plate-glass windows, and a double-door entryway. The Skagway News commented that the hardware store looked "as neat and attractive as a cream chocolate booth at the church fair." Brownell sold tacks, nails, sleds, stoves, and other mining tools.

Meanwhile, a new building was being constructed next door - A.C. Fasel's Pioneer Paint and Wallpaper Company. Opening in early 1898, Fasel's store sold paints, oils, wallpaper, mirrors, doors, and artist materials in their substantial two-story store. As the gold rush began to slow down and Skagway began to enter an economic decline, both businesses were closed in 1902 and the buildings were sold to new proprietors.

pioneer paints ad

Advertisement from the Skagway News, June 17, 1897


Later History
In 1903, John Anderson acquired the former Hotel Rosalie/Brownell's Hardware and began transforming it into a saloon. Charles Walker, designer of the driftwood facade of the Arctic Brotherhood hall, helped Anderson construct a new facade of driftwood, stones, and concrete. The new Pantheon Saloon, complete with bar and slot machines, stayed in business until 1916. Meanwhile, Elwood Moyer bought the former A.C. Fasel paint store and converted it into a general merchandise store. He painted the building red and named it the Red Front store. In 1911, the Moyers sold the building to John Anderson, owner of the Pantheon, who used the building for storage. When Skagway voted to go dry in 1916 (two years before national prohibition), the Pantheon Saloon was forced to close. At some point in the 1920s, the abandoned Red Front was torn down as a fire hazard. The former Pantheon later operated as a museum, a saloon during World War II, a restaurant, a bakery, and a curio shop before it was sold to the National Park Service in 1977.

Historic Restoration
Restoration of historic buildings owned by the National Park Service is guided by the Secretary of the Interior's standards for the treatment of historic properties. There are four preservation treatments: preservation, rehabilitation, restoration, and reconstruction. Preservation maintains a structure's current appearance, making it stable and safe for visitors while maintaining its current form. The Ice House, near the Moore Homestead at 5th and Spring Streets, is a good example of the treatment of preservation. Most National Park Service-owned buildings in Skagway have followed the principles of restoration and rehabilitation. Restoration involves depicting properties at a particular time in their history while removing evidence of other periods. Rehabilitation acknowledges the need to add compatible uses to a historic property to meet changing uses, while maintaining the building's historic character. The Pantheon Saloon is an example of restoration, in that park management chose to restore the exterior of the building to its 1903-1916 appearance as the Pantheon Saloon. It is also an example of rehabilitation, as the building's interior was adapted to house park offices upstairs and modern retail space downstairs. The treatment of reconstruction was applied to the Red Front. Reconstruction recreates vanished elements of a property, in this case rebuilding the entire store based on historical evidence (such as the above photograph). The Red Front's reconstruction serves the park as museum storage upstairs and leased commercial space downstairs.

Historic Building Leasing Program
The Pantheon Saloon and Red Front Building are two of over a dozen historic buildings owned by Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park. Many of these buildings are leased to private businesses under the provisions of the National Historic Preservation Act. Annual lease payments help offset the costs of maintaining this and other historic buildings in the park. The compatible commercial use of this structure continues Skagway's long tradition as a bustling center of business activity.

Last updated: February 1, 2024

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Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park
P.O. Box 517

Skagway, AK 99840


907 983-9200

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