Catherine Anderson, her husband Hans, and two young daughters moved to Leavenworth with the arrival of the Great Northern Railway Company in 1892. Mrs. Anderson first operated a restaurant on Front Street, losing the business in the disastrous Thanksgiving Day fire of 1896, which destroyed most of Leavenworth’s commercial district.
Widowed by 1900, and with two teenage daughters (Bessie & Emma) to raise, she purchased the Commercial Street residence of local postmaster, Cart Christensen, Chelan County’s first county clerk, in May 1903.
While Leavenworth was already serving as the main supply station for the Blewett Mining District and division point of the Great Northern Railway, the incorporation of the Lamb Davis Lumber Company in 1903 would contribute most to the growth of the town in the early 20th Century. Along with the expansion of Mrs. Anderson’s residence, approximately fifty new buildings were constructed in 1903 alone.
An advertisement in the March 1904 edition of the Leavenworth Echo describes “Mrs. Anderson’s Lodging House” as having “Everything New — Clean Fresh Beds – Reasonable Rates”. Two of the town’s new single schoolteachers were among her first tenants. The “parlor” was the scene of her daughter Emma’s wedding in 1904.
It was only through heroic work that Mrs. Anderson’s Lodging House was saved from fire a few months after its 1903 opening. L. P. Hartwood recalls the memorable event in his Kye Stories published in 1935:
Mrs. Anderson deeded the lodging house, by then known.as the Anderson Hotel, in March 1918, to her daughter Bessie (Anderson) Davis. Mrs. Anderson died at the age of 72 at the home of her daughter Emma (Anderson) Parish in 1925 and is buried in Seattle.
Emma returned from Seattle to Leavenworth in 1927 and opened the Tumwater Gateway Cafe at the present location of the Tumwater Cafe at the corner of 9th & Commercial Street, a short distance from the hotel. Mary (Minnie) Martin, the daughter of Mrs. Anderson, by a previous marriage in England, came to live with her half-sister Bessie at the hotel and later in the adjoining house presently occupied by Pinnacles West Antiques. Bessie (Anderson) Davis married Alfred Anderson in 1923. She died in 1933 of a heart ailment leaving her husband and one son, Freddie, age 7.
The Anderson Hotel was purchased by Crystal (West) Brisky from Alfred Anderson in July 1946. While continuing to operate as the Anderson Hotel, Mrs. Brisky also provided comfortable space for elderly borders and the hotels unofficial name became the “Elderager” for a number of years. Mrs. Brisky’s pet goose Oliver is fondly remembered by a generation of Leavenworth residents, who recall “Crystal” driving her car around town with Oliver bouncing around in the back seat.
With the re-birth of Leavenworth in the 1970’s and 1980’s, the building was renamed the Crystal Hotel which it remained until Mrs. Brisky’s death at the age of 81 in October, 1988. Fully renovated and restored to its earlier days, Mrs. Anderson’s Lodging House, is now the oldest commercial wood frame building in Leavenworth and the oldest lodging facility re-opened its doors under new ownership.