Welcome to the Tiki Central 2.0 Beta. Read the announcement
Tiki Central logo
Celebrating classic and modern Polynesian Pop

Tiki Central / Locating Tiki

South Seas Club, Anchorage, AK (bar)

Pages: 1 24 replies

Name:South Seas Club

Very little info on this club. The menu is the only item I've seen so far.

Proof that even Alaska had Polynesian bars. Pre-tiki era, (1940s-50s?). The menu artwork was done by pinup artist and illustrator, Merlin Enabnit, and is in my opinion one of the most clever take-offs of the Trader Vic's menu art: Grizzly Bears frolicking with wahines and an old gold prospector substituting for the beachcomber figure.

View of the South Seas bar and dance room from across the street. The building has a thatched roof and decorative Tapa cloth panels on the exterior. The name of the bar, "South Seas" is written on the door. A woman pedestrian walks past the entrance.

Interior shot of the South Seas bar & dance room. The roof is thatched with bamboo or cane strips and supported by bamboo poles; a tapa cloth panel is partially visible. Cane tables and chairs fill the room. A large mural showing monkeys on bicycles on a beach covers the far wall.

Interior shot of the South Seas bar and dance room, Anchorage. A thatched roof supported by bamboo poles hangs over the bar giving the feeling of being in a grass hut. Cane barstools and chairs continue the South Pacific theme.

Interior shot showing the dance floor at the South Seas bar & dance room, Anchorage. The dance floor is surrounded by a raised mezzanine floor filled with cane tables and chairs. Two palm trees are on either side of the entrance to the dance floor.

Great internet digging, Unga! Looks like the Northern version of the Zamboanga. Monkeys on bicycles, huh? That might have been the South Seas version of pink elephants.

Awesome, Unga! Those photos are excellent. I think if I lived in Anchorage in the 40s, I'd probably be spending most of my time there.

Bigbro - I agree. I've been tempted to start a thread devoted to just the monkey imagry used by South Seas bars in the pre-tiki era. There's tons of it.

I dare ya to be the monkeys' uncle!


If anyone can come up with an address for this place in the next 24 hours, I will go recononoiter the remains...


Hey Sabu,

Thanks for the pics - Now let me think would I rather be spending the 1940's out in the creek freezing ma but of looking for non existant gold or hanging out in a tiki bar, with thse beautiful smiling polynesians?

Yep, it's that bar every time :o)


Tiki wisdom preceeded history. Only "electric heads" prefer fluorescent glare to tiki flicker. tiki torches are the way but to be bug free way use citronella torches

[ Edited by: DaveB57 2010-07-06 02:19 ]

[ Edited by: DaveB57 2010-07-06 02:19 ]


On 2010-07-06 01:56, tikibars wrote:
If anyone can come up with an address for this place in the next 24 hours, I will go recononoiter the remains...

Hey James, I think you want to get over to the North side of 4th Avenue between G and H Streets. That is the strip, on 4th, where the South Seas Nite Club was. I don't have the exact address but this is the block.
It was just down from a place known as "Piggly Wiggly Market" which seems to have been well known. There was also a First National Bank across the street, diagonal from the Club, and was also beside a old place called "Crockers". Banks usually don't get torn down so hopefully it's still there as a reference.

Being that this Club was from about 1942, or maybe even earlier, it would be interesting to see what's there now.

Hope this helps you out a bit. Let us know how it goes.
All the best, TabooDan

[ Edited by: TabooDan 2010-07-06 15:32 ]


Now, I wonder if we have any TC'ers up in Anchorage as they would be able to find out alot more about this cool looking tropical escape! I think there's information to find we just gotta get someone up there to do some snooping.

A little more info. I found online while trying to narrow down the address of this place was that the owners name of the South Seas Club was a Walt Gronert. I could not find anymore information on the owner or narrow down the exact time line of this establishment.

It definitely was open early and was pre-tiki. It sure is hard to find info. on a place this old. The great photos that Unga Bunga posted above of the interior and outside were from 1942 or 1943 and possibly earlier than that. That's pretty much all I can find out.

However....... I did come across something interesting as I was digging around a little more. Bare with me here!

In my search, I came across a Dog Sled Race that goes down 4th Ave in Anchorage. Whether or not this Dog Sled Race is annual or goes through this part of town yearly, I do not know.
I could only really find one race that seems to happen yearly and that is called the "Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race". This annual race only seems to have started happening in 1973 but I have seen photos of dog races down 4th Ave. in Anchorage throughout the 40's, 50's and 60's. I am not sure if these are a specific race or not, but it seems these races also happened for events as well.

I know you're thinking, what the hell is this Canuck talking about??!!
Well hang in there!

The "Iditarod" Dog Sled Race does have a historic "Ceremonial Start".
I found that: "The race starts on the first Saturday in March, at the first checkpoint on Fourth Avenue in downtown Anchorage. A five-block section of the street is barricaded off as a staging area, and snow is stockpiled and shipped in by truck the night before to cover the route to the first checkpoint".
So there's that 4th Avenue again!

Well, in what I think is the late 1940's, I found this photo of a dog race down on, you guessed it, 4th Avenue:

Do you see anything we might be interested in??

Hard to make out in this photograph but what about this one:

See it?? Look at the man in the foreground and look to the building directly in front of his hat. I see a nice big Palm Tree sign above that building!!!

And here's another view:

I haven't found a real good one yet, but you can see it for sure.

That's a pretty cool looking sign for some joint up in Alaska!! You can tell from the photos of the interior decor and the menu art that this place was very well done. We're talking over 60 years ago!!

Now what I thought was funny about that Palm Tree sign is that in this photo, which was done the same time as the interior photos of the South Seas, there is no sign:

The building would be about in that middle section on the left side just behind the Cleaners sign. Okay fine, they could have added the Palm Tree later but I don't think they did. I think the South Seas Bar closed and changed names.

The South Seas Bar was now the Seven Seas Club!
In the pictures above with the dogs, which I think are late 1940's, the name change has already happened and whoever was running the place now, wanted to keep the same tropical theme going and probably added a few things. Or maybe it was the same owner? Hard to say yet.

Here's the first photo I've ever seen of the Seven Seas Club:

Looks like they didn't change too much to me!! This picture is from 1952!
Wonder if that's the owner behind the bar? The description that went with this photo was "View of customers in Seven Seas bar in Anchorage, Alaska. Interior showing bar. (Publicity shot, interior with people). Feb. 20, 1952".
So, later date, same place, same decor, different name.

Looks like we got another place to look into now!!!
Mahalo, TabooDan


I just found out about this, some of you might know, but here's the reason I think we won't find too much to do with the area of old 4th Avenue we want to see:

"The Alaskan earthquake occurred on Good Friday, March 27, 1964, at 5:36 PM local time. It was the largest earthquake ever recorded in North America. Duration estimates range from 3 to 5 minutes. Sources vary as to the magnitude of this earthquake, in part because a variety of scales are used to measure earthquakes. Bruce Bolt lists it as 8.6 Ms, where Ms is the surface-wave magnitude. The USGS gives it a 9.2 Mw, where Mw is the moment magnitude.

The epicenter was located between Valdez and Anchorage, near Prince William Sound.
The earthquake occurred on a thrust fault. This fault was a subduction zone, where the Pacific plate plunges underneath the North American plate. The first slip occurred at a depth of 25 km (16 miles), which is a shallow depth.

The sudden uplift of the Alaskan seafloor caused a tsunami, which was responsible for 122 of the 131 deaths. The tsunami propagated at speeds over 400 miles per hour. The tsunami reached the Hawaiian Islands.
The tsunami also struck Crescent City, California, killing ten people. Giant redwood logs from a nearby sawmill were thrust into the city streets. A total of 16 people died in Oregon and California."

I think that gives meaning to there goes the neighborhood!!
From most of the pictures I can see, there was some major damage along 4th Avenue. Here's one from about a block and a half from where the club was:

Some areas of the roadway sank over 15 feet!

Here's another:

I could not find any pictures of the area we want to see but it is possible that the area was damaged. Some of the buildings in that area would have been over 22 years at least by the time the earthquake came. Alot of the bigger buildings and blocks were being built around 1912-1917.

Looks like our little building that housed the bar was destroyed at one time or another. Google maps now just shows car parking in that area between G and H streets along 4th Avenue.

Well, I think this is about all the digging I'm gonna do on this place.
It sure would be cool to see some images of this area in the mid to late 1950's. I don't think the Seven Seas Club lasted past the late 50's as I just couldn't find anything out there. Especially in the sixties as the area seemed to change quite a bit.

It is very hard to see but in this picture which is around 1957, I think you can just make out the shape of the top of the Palm Tree sign way off to the right. Look just to the right of the tall building in the center of the background:

Like I said, hard to see but it looks like the same shape.

I also thought this was a good postcard of some of the signs along 4th Avenue:

Somewhere along here was the Club we want to find out about. Thought it was cool to see the colored signs and nice cars from the same period!!

I'm outta here!
Mahalo, TabooDan

[ Edited by: TabooDan 2010-07-10 15:56 ]

Great research Dan. Thanks for taking the time to dig into the story and post all of the photos. Love this stuff! Keep up the good work.


Nice research, Dan.

Those earthquake photos that you posted also hang in little (or big) frames in virtually every business on 4th St.

4th is the main tourist drag in Anchorage, near Cook's Inlet, and on the opposite side of town from where most of the locals live. The last photo you posted, the color one, is the only one that shows businesses that still exist. The sign for Club 25, seen clearly in the right foreground, is still there. The 4th Ave Theater, whose sign can also be glimpsed down the block a bit, is also still standing, but is closed.

I was not able to find any locals who knew anything about, or who even remembered, the South Seas Club.

I did, however dig up a little info on Tiki Cove, but that will be reported elsewhere.

  • James T.

Get my newest book, Big Stone Head at: http://www.bigstonehead.com

For Tiki Road Trip, Left Orbit Temple, global travelogues, and more, visit: http://www.tydirium.net

[ Edited by: tikibars 2010-08-01 13:14 ]

here is a matchbook


Nice matchbook Pa'akiki!! Any more info. on that matchbook?? Inside maybe?

What a cool matchbook and one including what looks to be a picture of the inside and a shot that's a different view of the photos posted before! You usually see these old books with drawings of the places and not pictures. Very cool!

I looked up those street names and couldn't find anything on them. Same place for sure but I wonder why it doesn't say 4th Avenue? It didn't seem to change names in all the info. I went through. Hard to say since it's so old.


[ Edited by: Taboodan 2010-07-14 20:33 ]


Dan, The inside of the matchbook is blank.


I have those menu covers you posted as well that are blank on the inside. A real menu sold on ebay not too long ago with some photos of the inside.

Funny thing in looking at the menu is that the South Seas only had a couple of tropical drinks - the Zombie and the South Seas Special Cocktail. Everything else was straight up cocktails and whiskeys of the era. I guess that's Alaska for you.



Found this on ebay.

KC5QNK posted on Mon, Mar 4, 2013 2:25 PM

I picked up a nice little table drink card from the South Seas.

It features the South Seas Special

And I like this one, the Pursuit Punch!

And I found a few more photos of the military boys enjoying themselves at the South Seas.


Nice! I've never seen that first photo. The South Seas Club is one of the few clubs that really spark my imagination. I suggest you concentrate on finding stuff from this place and stop bidding on items from Washington tiki joints. :)

aloha, tikicoma


Another photo from the University of Alaska Anchorage. And close-up of part of the mural with a more traditional hukilau scene.

But wait there's more.

A decent close-up of the 1942-43 monkey mural... I wonder if the hukilau mural was a later replacement?

It looks like the front of the nightclub changed in this 1949 photo with a close-up of the new neon palm tree sign.

[ Edited by: tikicoma 2017-11-13 21:12 ]

I got this email from Gary Keyes:

"I just came across this page and saw the discussion about the South Seas Club in Anchorage. Latest one being from tikicoma posted 2017-11-13. I have lived in Anchorage since '83. I have worked on this building 3-4 times. It is now Trapper Jacks Trading Post. The South Seas dance floor is still in the basement. You can see the mural around the wall of the floor. It is now storage for the gift shop. This type of history is really cool as far as I'm concerned. My father-in-law went there while in the army. All the big politicians at the time were regulars. The dog races were the Iditarod which went to Nome and the Fur Rendezvous which is a 25 mile race thru town and back. Both still going on. Not sure if this discussion is over or people still interested but thought I would put this out there. Was standing in the dance floor yesterday as a matter of fact."

Some more info from Gary Keyes in Anchorage

"Mike, here is a shot I took today of one end of the dance floor of old South Seas Club. Can see some of the original flooring upper left as well. Starting another remodel in the building next week."

Pages: 1 24 replies