Monday, July 30, 2012

Fairbanks Hidden History - A few examples

Inside some of the ordinary-looking houses in downtown Fairbanks are hidden log cabins dating from the city's earliest days. There are also bits of area history hidden inside some of the larger commercial building around the borough. Here ae a few examples:

Big Dipper Ice Arena on Lathrop Street - The Big Dipper, owned by the Fairbanks North Star Borough, started life as a World War II aircraft hanger at Tanacross. The airstrip there was used by the U.S. Army as part of the Northern Staging Route, the series of airfields through which military aircraft were ferried from the U.S. to the Soviet Union during World War II. After WWII ended, the hanger was seldom used. In 1968 it was dismantled and moved to Fairbanks, where it was reassembled and turned into an ice skating venue.

Arctic Bowl bowling alley on Cowles Street -  The core of this building was originally the Weeks Field hanger for Pan American Airlines. It was built in 1933 by Pacific Alaska Airways (a subsidiary of Pan Am). Later it was used by Northern Consolidated Airways, and then served as a bus barn for Northern Overland Company.

 Denali State Bank on Illinois Street -
This used to be the addition (built in 1951) to St. Josephs hospital. The original hospital building was torn down in 1973. The addition (which sat empty for many years) was converted into office space in the 1980s and eventually became the headquarters for Denali State Bank.

Silver Gulch Brewery in Fox. -  Before the brewery took over the building it was the Fox Roadhouse. Before that it was the Max Rede General Mercantile Store, and before that the Fox Gulch House (wine, liquor and cigars) and Dining Room.  It was originally a two-story log building (built in about 1905) but was eventually covered by sheet metal siding. Additions and changes over the years altered the building's appearance, but if you knew where to look you could still see parts of the original structure peeking through. With all the changes in recent years Im  not sure anything original is left.

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