July 28, 2009

Soapy Smith's saloon on National Register

(Click image to enlarge)
Jeff Smith's Parlor as a
Soapy Smith museum, circa post 1935

The photograph above shows Jeff Smith's Parlor after it had been purchased, restored and opened as a Soapy Smith museum by Martin Itjen in 1935. Our friend, B. Mike at Commencing to Get Ready to Begin, one of our inside men regarding the restoration of Soapy's saloon in Skagway, Alaska has turned in his report with an inclusion that may help put Jeff Smith's Parlor in the limelight nationwide. B. writes,

From the land of Soap: I turned in my Determination of Eligibility to the State Historic Preservation Office and they will be reviewing my work on Thursday and possibly approving it for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places. Ballin! So that means the Jeff. Smiths Parlor Museum could be on the National Register list by the end of the year.

Thank you B. Mike.

Questions for B. Mike:

  1. You wrote "Jeff. Smiths Parlor," yes, you forgot the apostrophe in Smith's but what I refer to is the period after Jeff, which is short for Jefferson. Does this mean the real name of the saloon would be Jefferson Smith's Parlor?
  2. On July 9 (scroll down) I posted a photograph that shows Martin Itjen holding what appears to be part of the original sign that hung below the cornice of the building. Do you know if this piece perhaps still exists as a part of the 2007 Rapuzzi collection purchase? It seems to me Itjen would have saved that sign.
  3. Looking below at the ad in the Skagway News, note that the period is gone after Jeff but an S has been added to Parlor. Could this mean that there were more establishments? (see Soapy's Saloons)


  1. To quote myself here,
    "[In comparison to Soapy's Parlor the Itjen era Palor is] pretty similar but regrettably not perfectly accurate. The people who regret it are mostly super huge history nerds, but it is slightly different and that is basically what I write about."

    I refer to the building as the Jeff. Smiths Parlor Museum, because that is what Itjen called it i.e. that's what appeared on his sign, with the period and without the apostrophe. I/NPS folk surmise that Itjen attempted to restore the building to approximately what Soapy's parlor looked like based on historic photographs. And furthermore I surmise that he probably used one of those Decoration Day or Independence Day photos where there was a banner over the facade sign and thus the apostrophe was obscured. But as you can see in my "Nerd Images" post Soapy included the period after Jeff in his sign. So I don't know what the "real name" of the parlor building is as far as it relates to your question, but that explains why the parlor is/was called what it is and why I refer to it as such.

    As far as that sign from the Itjen photo. It exists. I mean between Itjen and Rapuzzi nothing was thrown out for almost 80 years. I don't think much of the sign is left but a portion of that sign from the photo exists, but it is not a part of the current building.

    And were there other parlors?...I would say No. Nothing I have read or seen would lead me to believe that there was more than one Soapy parlor. The building has changed a bunch, if you want I can probably email you a "photographic chronology" in the next week or so, but that doesn't prove that much it just shows pictures and would give you the same explanation as I just basically offered. I'm sure you want it now that I am thinking about it, so just tell me where to send it.

    Did I answer those questions? Anything else? Happy to help.

  2. Hi, B. Mike.
    Thank you for the quick response. I agree about the apostrophe over "Smith's." I had trouble finding a photograph in which I could plainly see it because of the red, white, and blue bunting. By the way, photographs of all his saloons dating back to 1889 had flags and bunting on them. He was a very patriotic criminal.

    Regarding the partial Parlor sign that Itjen was holding up, I hope it is in with the Rapuzzi collection. I have a letter from Harriet Pullen's neice, Mary Kopanski(sic) telling my father about a partial sign she claimed to have. She died shortly afterward.

    What I meant about the plural of "Parlors" was that Soapy no doubt had other saloons running, but under different names. We know he partnered with John and Frank Clancy and probably Ira Coslett and Ward in the Klondike Saloon. He had numerous places in Denver that we are just beginning to learn about.

    I would love to receive your chronological photographs of the Parlor! You can send them to soapysmi@soapysmith.net

    Thank you!


Thank you for leaving your comment and/or question on my blog. I always read, and will answer all questions left here. Please know that they are greatly appreciated. -Jeff Smith