A day of demolition at the Fourth Avenue Theatre

A day of demolition at the Fourth Avenue Theatre
Published: Oct. 14, 2022 at 11:33 AM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The demolition of the Fourth Avenue Theatre began in early August, but on Thursday, city workers were finally making a lot of noise and progress.

“This seems to be the first day that you can really see demolition, I’m sure there’s been a lot going on that we couldn’t see,” Brent Howell, a longtime Anchorage resident, said.

The noise Thursday was causing many people to stop and snap photos of the historic building, and it even stirred the emotions of some.

“It’s a shame, I think the city will really rue the day that this building goes down because this is our historical center, and it’s going to be gone,” Sam Combs, an Anchorage architect, said.

“I just hate to see historical buildings being torn down,” Arthur Saucedo said while watching the demolition.

“It’s sad,” Howell added. “I mean it was inevitable, but it’s sad.”

Although it means saying goodbye to an iconic Anchorage landmark, the demolition is also a part of a $200 million project called Block 41 — a project visualized by the theater’s owner, Peach Holdings LLC — which supporters say is an opportunity to transform downtown Anchorage.

Howell says he goes to check on the progress of the demolition and capture photos of the building in his free time. Like other longtime Anchorage residents, he has memories of visiting the theater when he was a kid.

“We went to movies there when I was a kid in high school,” he said. “I mean, it was the destination.”

“It’s been a place I’ve gone to my whole life,” Combs said.

Combs is a part of the Alaska Association for Historic Preservation, an organization that tried to save the 4th avenue theatre over the years.

“I wrote all the Assembly members, I wrote legislators, I wrote the mayor ... and nobody saved it,” he said.

Combs said the organization even sent a letter to Gov. Mike Dunleavy to declare the theater a state historic site in an attempt to save it. In the end, the efforts were futile.

“Our children, and our children’s children, will never see this building and it’s beautiful inside, or it was,” Combs said. “It had a lot of history.”