New owners of Ester Gold Camp to open Malemute Saloon

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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) Listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1987, the Ester Gold Camp is now under new ownership. The once lively Malemute Saloon, located on the property, will have its shutters removed and cobwebs dusted with its re-opening in May of 2020. New owners, Scott Swingle and Jill Rosholt, decided to buy the gold camp because of their love for theater and the history of the property. "I've owned a few different businesses over the years. Jill has got a lot of experience in History and teaching dance, being in productions for shows. Myself included. I have been a musician for years, so the vintage, the history of the camp, we love it, and to tie that into arts and entertainment is amazing," said Swingle.

The original structure was built as part of the Ester Gold Camp at the turn of the previous century, and was turned into a saloon in the late 1950's. After a fire burned the original structure in the late 60's, it was rebuilt into what it is today. The Malemute Saloon offered a show about life in the Interior that was performed up to 6 days a week. Although the Saloon was a regular tourist destination, all that stopped when the doors shut in 2008.

Swingle and Rosholt shared what will come of the saloon and the stage. "We've talked about maybe bringing the old show back on a limited basis, maybe a couple shows, but it's not going to be that same show six days a week like it used to be. I'm hoping that we can do some theater in here, some small theater, some smaller shows," said Rosholt.

"It blows my mind the stories that people have, and that's what makes it exciting to me, to hear the history and the past and see people smile when they talk about it and the idea that it will be open again for good times, for some fun, arts and entertainment," Swingle continued.

Swingle and Rosholt say they want the saloon to be more than just a bar. They anticipate becoming a venue for theater, bands, comedy, and other fine art related events. According to the couple, it will be a tall order to completely renovate the entire Ester Gold Camp for the 2020 season, so their top priority will be getting the Malemute in full working order by May.