Thomas, George C., Memorial Library - Fairbank, Alaska
Posted by: BruceS
N 64° 50.681 W 147° 43.682
6W E 465469 N 7191343
Quick Description: Historic former library building in Fairbanks, Alaska.
Location: Alaska, United States
Date Posted: 2/20/2011 10:06:39 AM
Waymark Code: WMARX9
The George C. Thomas Memorial Library was built in 1909 by the Episcopal Church to serve as a public library Beginning in 1904 the St. Matthew’s Church served as a reading room to provide an alternative to the saloons for the miners of Fairbanks. Regular appeals went out through national Episcopal publications requesting reading materials for the reading room, by 1909 the reading room had over 2000 books and multitudes of periodicals and was outgrowing its space. The appeal for reading material caught the eye of George C. Thomas, a Philadelphia banker who served as treasurer of the Domestic and Foreign Mission Society of the national Episcopal Church. In May 1909, Thomas donated $4,000 for construction of a library in Fairbanks and an additional $1,000 per year for three years’ maintenance.
That summer the 40 by 40 foot log building was built about a block east of the church. The building is constructed of 6-inch logs sawn flat on 3 sides. The building has a hipped roof and wide porches on the north and east sides.
One of the most important meetings to take place in the building occurred in was the site of a 1915 between U.S. Government officials and native Alaskans to settle land and compensation claims. The meeting started a dispute that was not resolved until passage of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act of 1971.
In 1942 St. Matthew’s Church turned the library over to the City of Fairbanks and it served as the city library until 1968 when the Fairbanks North Star Borough assumed ownership of the library. The library continued to operate from the building until 1977 when the much larger Noel Wien Library opened. The Borough sold the building at that time. It has served a variety of commercial purposes since then.
In 1972, the site was listed in the National Register of Historic Places, and in 1978 it became a National Historic Landmark.