Early St. Ann's building torn down for entrance

Posted: Sunday, October 06, 2002

A remnant of early Juneau fell to the wrecking ball Friday, as a portion of downtown's St. Ann's Center was razed to improve access to the rest of the facility.

The three-story, flat-roofed wooden wing of the St. Ann's complex, located on Harris Street between Fifth and Sixth streets, dated to the first few years of the 20th century. James Donaghey, business manager for the Diocese of Juneau - which owns the complex - said there was some sadness over losing the building, but the foundation had deteriorated so much that repairs would have cost too much.

Donaghey said the newly-cleared space will be turned into a new entrance to the adjacent, cement-walled part of the St. Ann's complex.

"We're going to make the east side of the building a main entrance for the tenants that will be down there," he said.

Among those tenants will be will be the newly-merged Catholic Community Service and Hospice and Home Care of Juneau. The new entrance also will provide handicapped access to the lower portion of the remaining complex.

The razed structure was part of the old St. Ann's Hospital, which was formed by the Sisters of St. Ann in the 1880s and served Juneau until the late 1960s.

Donaghey said the first two stories of the old building were constructed about 1903. The book "North to Share," a history of the Sisters of St. Ann in Alaska and the Yukon Territory, indicates it may have been built as early as 1897.

Early photos show the original building had a hip roof, but that roof was removed a few decades later.

"Sometime in the 1920s or '30s a third story was added," Donaghey said. "Structurally, that shouldn't have been done."

Over the years, that flat-roofed addition stressed the foundation and lower floors. Donaghey said that in recent years, doors in the wing - last occupied by diocese offices and Catholic Community Service - would not close right because of the sagging foundation.

Offices that were located in the old building were moved into surplus space in the rest of the complex. The building was gutted to clean out asbestos before Friday's razing.

Andrew Krueger can be reached at akrueger@juneauempire.com.

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