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Historic Properties

National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places


Tour of National Register Historic Places in Seward

National Register Historic Places in Seward

  • Jesse Lee Home
  • Ballaine House
  • Lowell Creek Diversion Tunnel
  • St. Peter's Church
  • Seward Depot
  • US Cable Office
  • Swetman House
  • Van Gilder Hotel
  • Brown and Hawkins Store

    219 Sixth Avenue

    The Government Cable office located at 218 6th Ave. was constructed in 1905 and was part of the Alaska Military cable and Telegraph system (WAMCATS.) With the help of the Infantry units the signal corps of the US Army constructed a telegraph system, which connected most of Alaska’s major town with the outside world. Valdez received telegraph service first. In the summer of 1905, a submarine cable was laid between Valdez and Seward, which connected the new town with Seattle and the rest of the United States.

    This communication service was immediately put to use by Frank Ballaine and the local newspaper, The Seward Daily Gateway. Beginning in August of 1905, the daily Seward newspaper began to feature next day news accounts from the continental United States. Prior to this cable connection news arrived by mail brought by steamer.

    Communication initiated August 7, 1905. The first message transmitted over the cable after it was connected was to A.C. Frost, President of Alaska Central Railway, who was in Chicago: “This first message transmitted over Alaska Cable connects Seward from this day to the great city of Chicago.”

    The cable office was manned by US Army personnel. The front room was open to the public so people could pick up or send messages. The central part of the ground floor was the operator’s station. Station workers lived on the upper floor.

    Originally, the cable office had wood siding, which was painted cream color. The trim was pink. Eventually the building received a coat of stucco, which is probably why it is still as well preserved as it is.

    The telegraph service continued uninterrupted until 1934 when an earthquake severed the cable and it was not repaired. By this time radio communication had been put in place and the US Navy’s radio station located near the airport filled the void caused by the severed cable. The cable office itself remained government property until 1961 when it was sold. It has been used as a private residence and rented apartments ever since.