Our journey along Second Street forces us to remember incredible buildings now long gone. As with the demise of the Windsor, right across the corner once stood the Reception Building. This long rectangular two-story building was constructed in the summer of 1908 by Owen Webster ‘Link’ Waln and J. Williams to house their Reception Saloon. The hall above their saloon was popular for parties and dances, and they allowed benefit entertainment to secure the hall at no cost.
Link Waln became sole owner of the building from 1918 to 1941 and was a pioneer Alaskan who came north during the Klondike Gold Rush. In 1899 he came to Nome where his success at mining the beach placers enabled him to purchase a saloon in Unalaska. After settling in Cordova, he became a founder of the Cordova Pioneer Igloo.
During prohibition, the Saloon was renovated into apartments and the storefront windows were removed, but when Remy and Boll Johnson ran the flower business there, they restored the storefront windows. Before it was torn down, it was on the National Register of Historic Places.
As the City of Cordova begins preparations for the revamping of Second Street, the folks at the museum have been assisting the State Office of History and Preservation as well as the Alaska Department of Transportation in researching the historic areas of Second Street. Over the next few months, the Museum will share some of the stories of those buildings we see every day and their unique history.
These photos are from the collection of the Cordova Historical Society. Much of the information for this article was gleaned from the book: From Fish and Copper Cordova’s Heritage and Buildings by Nicki Nielsen.