Chicken Ridge Historic District
The Chicken Ridge Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1995. Portions of the content on this web page were adapted from a copy of the original nomination document.  Adaptation copyright © 2012, The Gombach Group.
Located on a high ridge immediately northwest of the original Juneau Townsite, the Chicken Ridge Historic District is comprised of single and multiple family residential structures. It is one of the oldest neighborhoods in Juneau, Alaska's capital city. Early settlers who hunted in the area gave the area its unique name, Chicken Ridge, presumably because of the numerous ptarmigan and grouse found there.
The Juneau Alaska Daily Dispatch for March 12, 1916, described the neighborhood: The best residences of Juneau are on Chicken Ridge. This is the Nob Hill or the aristocratic part of the city. I understand that the residents are not in love with the name, and they talk of changing it to Bellevue or Bon Aire or some other less plebeian title. The Ridge is at the upper end of the city, well back from the water. The houses are pretty two-story structures, built on patches cut out of the rocks. The richest man in town has a lawn about as big as three bed quilts, and tourists are taken to see this as one of the sight of the city.
The Chicken Ridge Historic District is associated with the early development of Juneau, the capital of Alaska. Adjacent to the downtown commercial district, Chicken Ridge was one of the first residential areas to be established in Juneau. Having developed most of the flat ground in the original townsite, Chicken Ridge, with its relatively flat top, provided the most promising direction for the town to grow. The development of the residential district was influenced by the growth of mining and the territorial government. As the town prospered, local business and professional figures moved into the neighborhood. An affluent socio-economic class including attorneys, doctors, business owners, mining executives, government employees, and politicians had their homes on Chicken Ridge.
The oldest building standing in the district is the McCloskey House, built in 1893. From that date until 1939, over seventy-five homes were built in the district. Three blocks of time had somewhat differing influences on the development. The first substantial development occurred during the Initial Development Era, from 1893 to 1911. Most of the houses in the neighborhood established at that time were by miners or territorial government figures. The next block of time was the Territorial Government/Beginning Gold Mining Era, from 1912 to 1920. With the general prosperity of the community many business leaders and professionals (doctors, lawyers, engineers) began moving to the neighborhood. During this period the neighborhood witnessed its largest development. The last substantial development in the district occurred during the Peak Gold Mining Era, 1921 to 1939. The new residents of the neighborhood were primarily business owners and professionals. Mining peaked in the mid-1930s and the growth of the territorial government leveled off. After 1939, very few empty lots remained in the neighborhood. The last mine closed in 1944 due to labor shortages caused by World War II and the fixed price of gold.
Some of the early residents included Jack Hammond, mining superintendent; John H. Cobb, an important territorial government figure; W.D. "Dave" Gross, early movie theater entrepreneur; Bart Thane, owner of the Alaska Gastineau Gold Mining Company; James Wickersham, territorial judge; Wallis George, businessman and developer of the Baranof Hotel; Herbert Faulkner, legal representative for the Alaska Juneau Gold Mining Company; John Rustgard, Territorial Attorney General; Crystal Snow Jenne, theatrical figure; James Davis, marine engineer; Frank Dufresne, National Geographic author; Dr. Earl Bevis, physician and surgeon; and William Britt, Vice-Counsel for Norway.
With its commanding views of the town, the surrounding mountains, and the Gastineau Channel, Chicken Ridge continues to be a very desirable neighborhood. The long standing desirability of the neighborhood accounts for its well-preserved buildings which retain their original architectural character. The tree lined winding streets that follow a distinctive topographic ridge give the district its unique character. Buildings hug the edge of the road on one side and the steep hillside on the other. No schools or churches were located in the district, but Juneau's major school complex was only two blocks downhill from the neighborhood. Three churches were within walking distance of the district. Also, just down the hill was the State Capitol and downtown.