Building, property donated to Older Persons Action Group

A building and property have been donated to nonprofit Older Persons Action Group, Inc. (OPAG), a statewide organization that advocates for Alaska seniors.

The Amundsen House at 810 8th St. in downtown Anchorage was an Alaskan territorial days landmark that transitioned through numerous owners and businesses, but has been vacant and boarded since a fire last year. A backhoe and supporting crew from Alaska Demolitions tore down the two-story structure on May 30.

OPAG was deeded the building in 2024 from Anchorage International Hostel Downtown, which owned it for the 14 prior years.

"We are incredibly thankful to the Anchorage International Hostel Downtown (AIHD) for their generosity and support," OPAG board president Dylan Webb said. "This donation is a testament to the community spirit and collaborative efforts that define Anchorage. Despite the loss of the Amundsen House, this gift provides us with a new opportunity to continue our mission and serve the community."

How OPAG will use the property remains under discussion.

The building's namesake, South Dakotan Ernest Amundsen traveled north to his future in the early 1900s, first in Valdez, then eventually Anchorage, where he built himself a log cabin. Having found his life's partner Victoria Lampe while in Kodiak, the newlyweds moved to the 8th street cabin and improved their home by adding portions of framed house to accommodate their growing family.

After a stint with the Gottstein grocers, Amundsen became postmaster of Anchorage for four years beginning in 1932, and then served his city as Chief of Police beginning in 1936. Sadly, cancer claimed him in 1938. His wife soon turned the home into a boarding house for children, along with her own four. She continued renting rooms well into her eighties. Both she and her husband, Ernest are buried in the Elks Tract of the Anchorage Memorial Park Cemetery.

From that time on, the Amundsen House has seen use as a youth hostel, boarding house, wine and cheese store, and a home for Alaska Immigration Justice.

AIHD board member Michael Carey had performed numerous upgrades on the property over the years in hopes of continuing its use as a boarding house. Recently, his wife Suzanne had joined him in those efforts, which were thwarted by squatters and arson that rendered the building uninhabitable and bringing about its demolition.