March 7, 2016
Ben Hayes, Chief of Interpretation, 907-983-9206
The National Park Service invites you to join us as we celebrate the opening of the historic Jeff. Smiths Parlor Museum. Previously scheduled for May 6, the event has been moved forward and will include a special dedication, a ribbon cutting ceremony, free tours, and more. The building was donated to the park in 2008 by the Rasmuson Foundation as part of the Rapuzzi Collection, an array of 30,000 gold rush era objects and five buildings.
"Jeff. Smiths Parlor" became famous in 1898 as the base of operations for notorious swindler Jefferson "Soapy" Smith and his gang. In 1935, Martin Itjen converted the building into the "Jeff. Smiths Parlor Museum," a homespun tourist attraction featuring animatronic mannequins and a wildlife diorama centered on two moose locked in combat. Skagway residents George and Edna Rapuzzi operated the tourist attraction in the mid-1960s and it was available in varying degrees to the public until George's death in 1986. The grand opening follows an eight-year restoration with original artifacts on display. The Jeff. Smiths Parlor is a noteworthy addition to the park as it represents not only gold rush history but also the development of early Alaskan tourism.
"This is the first major event in the National Park Service Centennial celebration at Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park, and it exemplifies our mission of preserving America's heritage for future generations," said Superintendent Mike Tranel. "We're happy that the Rasmuson Foundation can join us for the grand opening on April 30, and this earlier date will provide more opportunities for local residents to get a free tour of the building." To stay up to date on the evolving grand opening schedule of events, visit go.nps.gov/soapysmith. We invite you to join us in commemorating this historic milestone and witness the enduring legacy of Skagway's gold rush past on April 30, 2016. For more information, call 907-983-9206 or visit www.nps.gov/klgo.