We arrived at the gorgeous Jorgenson Bed and Breakfast and were met by the lovely proprietor, Renda Heimbigner, with a hug at the door. We had been communicating via email for a couple months and it was immediately evident we had strongly connected. I suspect she’s genuinely that welcoming to everyone who crosses the threshold to her lovely historic home perched slightly above and on the outskirts of downtown Juneau, Alaska. Renda pointed to a large construction project next to the entry patio saying they were in the process of expanding to have a cooking school, some additional rooms with an event space and additional parking next door. Absolutely no question in our minds it will end up being exquisite.
Renda proudly showed us around the luxury bed and breakfast outfitted in creams and golds and beiges with deep brown velvet chairs and accents. The solarium, where most breakfasts are served, had been temporarily overtaken by two sisters from San Francisco who were making their little sister’s wedding dress. They are design students and had a dressmakers form with silk and lace and all the trimmings draped across a couple tables near a sewing machine. Absolutely darling photographs with the fireplace going and the sun coming in the solarium windows.
Then a journey upstairs to see the three luxury suites and sitting room. Renda’s uncle had been a major executive with the Alaska Historical Society in the late 1940s and the house is peppered with historical photographs and artifacts he had been given. The house had been constructed by her Grandfather and she’s the third generation to live in and own it. (For those not in Alaska – that means before statehood!)
She told us of her Grandfather having accidentally bumped into Harry Houdini and asking for some inside tricks. Ultimately, he met her Grandmother when he was hanging upside down in Juneau showing off how to get out of a straight-jacket. Renda’s eyes bounce when she tells these stories and you can see the pride in the history of the family and the place. She’s aware there aren’t many “original” Alaskans but gracious enough to note her family were immigrants as well.
We spent a nice long time chatting with Renda about the B&B and her clientele. Juneau is the state capital. The legislature is in session for only 3 months of the year and “they tend to economize for their accommodations.” But the business people and folks looking to meet with legislators enjoy the anonymity and comfort Jorgenson can offer. As You Wish Catering are often called upon for receptions or dinners during that season as well as bridal parties and special events.
We talked for a while about the fascination with history in both our regions and how proud Alaskans are of their relatively new heritage. Funny, until our talk, I don’t know that I’d ever seen or heard anyone speak in those terms about the history of the region. So many of the brochures and experiences are tourist-based, it’s hard to connect that it was someone’s uncle or grandfather. So thanks very much Renda for making it all so much more relevant and authentic. No doubt her discriminating clients feel the same as we did.
(And bless her as well for bringing up a bucket of chilled Alaska Ales during the photo shoot. Classy.)
More information about The Jorgenson House Luxury B&B in Juneau, Alaska can be found at http://www.jorgensonhouse.com/ .