BROWN AND HAWKINS STORE
209 Fourth Avenue
E. Brown, a young banker from Montreal, Canada met T. W. Hawkins,
a young merchant from Roanoak, Virginia during the Nome Alaska
gold rush of 1898. Brown and Hawkins became fast friends who
played an important part in establishing the banking and mercantile
systems currently serving central Alaska.
Brown and Hawkins partnership began in Valdez, Alaska in
1900. They came to Seward
site in 1903 to serve as banker and merchant for the building
of the Alaska Central Railroad. The large Mosler safe and
vault can still be seen in the bank of the store.
In 1912 brown and Hawkins chartered the SS Bertha. It was
loaded with general merchandise, a gold scale and a big iron
safe. This inventory was to serve the needs of the trappers
and miners. The SS Bertha was sent up the Cook Inlet into
the mouth of Ship Creek. To protect the ship from the strong
inlet tides it was firmly anchored on the mud flats. Thus
the coined name “Anchorage.”
Brown and Hawkins eventually separated the banking operations
from the mercantile operation of their stores. The Bank of
Seward and the Bank of Anchorage were created by this
Charles F. Brown was the president of both banks. The Bank
of Seward was absorbed by the First National Bank of Anchorage
and the Bank of Anchorage has become the Alaska State Bank.
Charles Brown died in 1929 and T. W. Hawkins in 1946.
The Brown and Hawkins Store is the oldest continually operated
business in Seward. It is also the oldest store in Alaska
under the same ownership. T. W. Hawkins’s son James
Hawkins took it over from his father and then passed it to
his daughter Virginia Darling (Hawkins.) Virginia’s
son Hugh Darling and his wife Iris are
current operators. Virginia Darling, a life long resident
of Seward is one of the local historians.
An extensive history of the founders is on display in the
store along with the old brass cash register and of course
the “old bank vault.”