September 1, 2012

Jeff Smith's Parlor restoration: part 15.

The Soapy Smith automaton awaits restoration
(Photo by Bob Lyon, image: 07-06 140)
(Click image to enlarge)

ecently Bob Lyon, historian for the National Park Service sent me some information about Martin Itjen that I have never heard anywhere else before. Fans of Soapy Smith in Skagway will recall that it was Martin Itjen who had purchased Jeff Smith's Parlor about 1916 and "restored" for a museum on Soapy. What I did not know is that before he opened the Parlor he operated another museum in the 1920s  for a couple of years, on the corner of 5th and State Streets.

Days of 98 Museum banner (circled in yellow)
The banner may be for Martin Itjen's first museum
Alaska State Library PCA 019-60, Ships Registry circa 1930 (could be older)
(Photo courtesy of Bob Lyon: KLGO SR-8-9451)
(Click image to enlarge)

According to Bob Lyon and architect, Becky Shaffer, the first museum Martin Itjen opened may have been in the Meyer Building, on the corner of 5th and State, the same address listed on the banner in the above photograph. On August 8, 2012 I posted the story and a photograph of another museum banner recently found hidden behind wood panels inside the Meyer Building

There's a photograph on the Alaska digital archives page of the Skagway waterfront with cruise ship graffiti that shows a very similar sign, so the museum was open, we just can't be entirely certain which building, but only the Meyer Building is likely for that corner and we know Rapuzzi owned it. [George Rapuzzi inherited the collection and buildings from Martin Itjen]

This is all that is known of the first museum. There is even some question as to when the second museum (Jeff Smith's Parlor) open to the general public. Bob Lyon was kind enough to send along copies of newspaper clippings so that I could share them. It has been believed that George Rapuzzi opened the Parlor to the public in 1963 after he moved the building over to 2nd Avenue, however Bob thinks this is incorrect. He states Rapuzzi,

moved Soapy's in 1963, as I've confirmed from an article in a Juneau newspaper. Many sources say he opened it that year. But the local paper, the Northwind, has a series of announcements that it would open--spring of 1964, 1965, 1966 and, finally, in 1967 an announcement says "NEW!" And "Now Open," which leads me to believe he didn't open until that year.

Following are the clippings he sent me.

November 1963

April 1964

April 15, 1965

May 1966



Bob Lyon
Jeff Smith's Parlor restoration

February 4, 2009 (Part 1)
February 19, 2009 (Part 2)  
March 31, 2010 (Part 3)  
August 7, 2010 (Part 4) 
February 11, 2011 (Part 5) 
April 5, 2011 (Part 6)
May 8, 2011 (Part 7)
May 17, 2011 (Part 8)
November 20, 2011 (Part 9)
March 21, 2012 (Part 10)
March 30, 2012 (Part 11)
June 20, 2012 (Part 12)
August 8, 2012 (Part 13)
August 29, 2012 (Part 14)

"Only lately, a paper said that our "coffee and doughnut men'' used to rob and kill people, and drop their bodies into the bay. That is rank foolishness. Grafters don't work that way. Soapy wouldn't have protected any man who did. The straight money from three-card monte and the shells came so easy that we would have been crazy to take such risks, even if we had been thugs and murderers. A man who knows anything about graft realizes the rattle-headedness of such talk." 
―Anonymous con man from The Confessions of a Confidence Man as told to Will Irwin. 1909


1799: The Bank of Manhattan Company opens in New York City, NY. It is the predecessor of Chase Manhattan.
1807: Former U.S. Vice President Aaron Burr is found innocent of treason.
1810: The first plow with interchangeable parts is patented by John J. Wood.
1858: Colonel Wright leads troops against Spokane Indians at Four Lakes (present day Washington state)
1859: The Pullman sleeping car is placed into service.
1862: Major Brown and 200 men close in on Little Crow and his tribe, making camp in Birch Coulie, Minnesota.
1864: Atlanta, Georgia falls to Union forces.
1864: Hunkpapa Sioux Indians attack an immigrant train of 80 wagons under the escort of Captain James Fisk. 12 members of the train are killed and the remainder made a running fight for 10 miles until they could make camp near present day Rhame, North Dakota. The immigrants leave out poisoned hardtack overnight for the Indians.
1868: Indians kill nine settlers near Spanish Fort, Texas.
1870: Martha Jane Canary, alias “Calamity Jane” claims that a minister performed a wedding ceremony for her and “Wild Bill” Hickok on the prairie.
1878: Billy “the Kid” and a small party arrive in Lincoln, New Mexico Territory to help Charles Bowdre and Doc Scurlock move their families to Fort Sumner.
1878: Emma M. Nutt becomes the first female telephone operator in the U.S., for the Telephone Dispatch Company of Boston.
1884: The Thomas A. Edison Construction Department and the Edison Company for Isolated Lighting merge.
1887: Emile Berliner files a patent for his invention of the lateral-cut, flat-disk gramophone. It is a device that is better known as a record player.
1893: Lawman Robert Andrew, Deputy Jim Masterson (brother to Bat Masterson), and others, find the outlaw Doolin gang hiding place in Ingalls, Oklahoma Territory. Seven members of the Doolin gang shoot it out with the lawmen that leave deputies Tom Houston, Dick Speed, and Lafe Shadley dead. Gang member Roy Daugherty, alias “Arkansas Tom,” “Dynamite Dick,” Bill Doolin, Tulsa Jack, Red Buck, and Bill Dalton escape when Tulsa Jack shoots his way through barricades from a hotel to the stable where the gang's horses are. He leads them back to the others and made good their escape, leaving only gang member Roy Daugherty, who was trapped in a second-story hotel room.
1897: The first section of Boston's subway system is opened.

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