The Diggs Mercantile is under construction. Photo courtesy of the Cordova Historical Society

The building at Second Street and Council was built in 1908 to house Joseph Diggs’ mercantile business. Two stories high and measuring 50 feet by 70 feet, at the time it was constructed it had a front of plate glass 7 feet by 9 feet, the largest in the city.

Locally known as the “Gingerbread House” for a while when Virginia Dale operated apartments in it, most recently it was used to house cannery workers by Trident Seafoods.

Diggs was appointed postmaster of Cordova on Feb. 8, 1909 and moved his post office to the smaller building he had constructed next door on Jan. 3, 1910. When it first opened, the post office building was described as having had “up to date” fixtures on order, which when installed would allow Cordova to boast of having one of the most modern post offices in the territory.

People ski down Council Street in Cordova near the fully constructed Diggs Mercantile. Photo courtesy of the Cordova Historical Society.

Prior to settling in Cordova, Diggs had been in the grocery business in Juneau, where he had moved with his parents in 1895. He came to Cordova in 1906 and operated a business in the old townsite. Diggs was elected to the first City Council after Cordova was incorporated, but resigned when he became postmaster. He married in 1907 and named his daughter Cordova Diggs.

As the City of Cordova begins preparations for the revamping of Second Street, the folks at the museum have been assisting the State Office of History and Preservation as well as the Alaska Department of Transportation in researching the historic areas of Second Street. Over the next few months, the Museum will share some of the stories of those buildings we see every day and their unique history.

These photos are from the collection of the Cordova Historical Society. Much of the information for this article was gleaned from the book “From Fish and Copper: Cordova’s Heritage and Buildings” by Nicki Nielsen.