The oldest surviving hotel in Seward, the Van Gilder retains its original appearance of quality and integrity of design. This landmark structure has been a vital part of the Gateway City's life for more than 85 years. Many persons associated with President Harding's tour of territorial Alaska lodged at the Van Gilder. In April 1924, news was cabled to the world from Seward that the first Round-The-World U.S. Army Flyers had arrived safely and were resting at the Van Gilder in preparation for the next long leg of their journey. Pictures of the flyers posed in front of the Van Gilder were featured in newspapers across the nation.
In the mid-1950s, Emma Renwald purchased the building, renaming it Hotel Renwald and adding a front entry canopy. Ownership passed to old-time Alaskans Francis and Bill O'Brien, who changed the name back to Van Gilder. It served as a dormitory for the Seward Skill Center (present day Alaska Vocational Technical Center), which opened its doors in January 1970.
Frank Irick purchased the building in 1972. When the Skill Center's lease expired in 1987, Mr. Irick undertook major refurbishing and reopened operations as a hotel once again.
Don and Deanne Nelson became new owners in the late 1980s and during the 1990s refurbished much of the interior. The Nelsons sold the structure in 1999 to Jon Faulkner, who also owns the Land's End Hotel in Homer. The current owner completed extensive renovations of the interior prior to opening in 2000 and received a grant to restore the building exterior to its original appearance.