Lynch & Kennedy Dry Goods is an Alaskan family-owned business that carries truly stunning pieces of Alaskan art. Owned and operated by Rosemary Libert and her husband Karl Klupar, the building was built in 1908 on the National Historic Register, later restored by the National Park Service, and re-opened by the couple in 1993 as an art gallery.
Rosemary Libert has always had a passion and talent for art but that’s not how she ended up in Alaska. Toward the end of her high school career and while completing her art degree at Boston College, Rosemary worked for the National Park Service as a summer interp ranger giving ranger talks to visitors, first at Valley Forge in Pennsylvania where she grew up and later at Mesa Verde in Colorado and Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park in Skagway, Alaska, where she met Karl, originally from New Jersey. Karl was working for Holland America at the time managing the restaurant of the Klondike Hotel (now Westmark Hotel) in town and Rosemary was working the bartender night shift.
The two hit it off, “partly because Karl had a car,” recalls Rosemary, “but one day Karl fires me! It was a mistake and Karl later apologized, and we got married in 1985.”
In 1986, when Karl was promoted to general manager of the hotel, Rosemary gladly took on the role of running the 300-square-foot hotel gift shop, which displayed handcrafted art and jewelry from local artists, including an original Chilkat Blanket, which Rosemary remembers selling for a pretty penny, “and that was in the ‘80s, before tourism really existed in Skagway.”
During this time, she went on frequent buying trips to remote Eskimo villages and immersed herself in local culture. In 1993, Rosemary’s entrepreneurial spirit was sparked when the Lynch and Kennedy building was out for bid. She and Karl won the bid. With her background in art and experience at the gift shop, Lynch & Kennedy was born.
Today, Lynch and Kennedy sells art and jewelry authentic and indigenous to Alaska. Some of the more notable pieces include bronze eagles, hand-blown glass, knives, mammoth ivory and gold nugget jewelry.
“People comment that it feels like a museum when you walk inside,” says Rosemary. “We have two large mammoth tusks in our window and a life-size bronze eagle, with a 7-foot wingspan, on display.”
About 10 years ago, Rosemary took it upon herself to create her own line of jewelry called Star of Alaska. “Everybody needs to develop an artistic perspective on life. It’s about looking at life through a different lens. Everybody is an artist.”
While we may not have the artistic touch that Rosemary talks about, we are blown away at the pieces of art that Lynch & Kennedy has to offer. If you’re looking for Alaskan souvenirs, local art, or friendly, down-to-earth staff, you must stop at Lynch & Kennedy in Skagway.
Rosemary and Karl also own The Historic Skagway Inn and run the Legends & Lies: Historic Gold Rush Saloon Experience tour. When Rosemary isn’t working on her next entrepreneurial project, you can find her drinking a margarita and listening to local rock and blues band The Hot Toddies on the first Friday of every month at Olivia's Bistro, named after one of her five children.