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Telling Alaska’s Story: Staying at the Kate Kennedy House in McCarthy is a window back in time

Telling Alaska’s Story: Staying at the Kate Kennedy House in McCarthy is a window back in time
Published: Jun. 13, 2022 at 6:41 PM AKDT
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MCCARTHY, Alaska (KTUU) - When Neil Darish opens the door to the Kate Kennedy House, he gets excited to show it off. For the last two years it’s been a work in progress and definitely a labor of love.

Darish is a long time McCarthy resident who’s spent the last two years restoring the historic home with authentic pieces from the 1920′s to match the year that it was built and the tastes of its former owner, Kate Kennedy.

Kennedy, a famous madame and respected businesswoman, lived in the then booming copper mining town from the mid 1900s to 1938. Darish explains that she ordered her home from a 1920′s Sears catalog and had it shipped to McCarthy.

“In the 1920′s it wasn’t Amazon, it was Sears, and the Sears catalog would be delivered to you,” Darish said. “From the Sears catalog you could pretty much order like it was Amazon. Course it took more than two days.”

Kennedy left McCarthy when the mine closed, but her home remained. Darish purchased it in 2006 and more recently started the process of turning it into a place where people can stay.

“Everything you see is designed to be an experience of what would it be like in 1920′s,” he said.

For $1,295 a night, guests can stay in the two-bedroom home and immerse themselves in the time period. Darish aims to give them an authentic experience and encourages guests to explore and use the items they find, including a vintage victrola.

“One of the things we want to share with people is a fabulous 78 record collection, and the idea that you can actually play these,” Darish said.

Darish said guests who are interested will get a lesson on how to use the early phonograph or anything else they might like to try.

“We ask that people of course enjoy what’s here, because we have the people to keep it up and running,” Darish said.

Darish has tried to keep the home as authentic as possible, but has added some modern amenities so that guests will be more comfortable. The original Kennedy House was one of the first to have electricity provided by a generator, he explained, but no running water. The home now features a modern bathroom and spa shower.

Another touch that guests might enjoy is the use of a vintage car and a private driver who can take them for a tour of the town or the nearby remains of the Kennecott Mine. Darish said, it’s all part of the experience he’s hoping to provide of what it was like to live a life of comparative luxury in a 1920′s mining town.

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