Clara Rust’s book This Old House (written by Jo Anne Wold), recalls that Katherine “Kitty” Hensley and her daughter Hazel lived as recluses in a tarpaper shack off 8th Avenue in the early days of Fairbanks Avenue. In 1914, Kitty’s friend Captain Smythe, a retired riverboat captain with excellent carpentry skills, remodeled the cabin using lumber from his sternwheeler that had been damaged during spring break-up. Capt. “Cap” Smythe built the attractive two-story home with a fine-turned stairwell and decorative fireplace. Cap was said to have worked slowly, with much attention to detail. Some folks believe that his slow pace was to prolong his affectionate contact with Kitty. Rumors abound that there was gold hidden in the house. All that was ever found—or reported—was in one of Hazel’s tiny baby stockings, the toe holding gold. It was hidden behind the fireplace.
The Kitty Hensley House was originally located at 932 8th Avenue, and was moved to the Park in 1967. The Pioneers of Alaska have furnished it with authentic pieces of furniture from the period. When the park first opened, the visitor information center was housed here before moving to its current location on the Riverboat Nenana.