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Pioneer Museum presents historic chair to City of Fairbanks

Published: Jul. 24, 2020 at 4:22 PM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) -

In a ceremony on Wednesday, July 22nd, the Pioneer Museum presented Fairbanks Mayor Jim Matherly with a chair used by the town’s namesake, Charles W. Fairbanks, for a long-term loan.

The ceremony took place on the steps of city hall, the date having been set as the 118-year anniversary of Felix Pedro’s discovery of gold in the Fairbanks area.

According to Joan Skilbred, Board Member with the museum, Fairbanks was a Senator from Indiana at the time that the city was named for him, and he went on to become U.S. Vice President to Theodore Roosevelt.

Skilbred said naming the town after Senator Fairbanks carried an advantage. “They named it Fairbanks, and that paved the way for Fairbanks to get federal services. And we were in competition with Chena at the beginning, and that helped Fairbanks have the staying power, and Chena’s not here today,” she said.

Charles W. Fairbanks was a Senator from Illinois who went on to become Theodore Roosevelt's Vice President.
Charles W. Fairbanks was a Senator from Illinois who went on to become Theodore Roosevelt's Vice President.(Photo Courtesy of Pioneer Museum)

The chair has been displayed over the years at the Wickersham House, Kitty Hensley House, Pioneer Museum and at City Hall. According to Skilbred, it went back into storage after being damaged by “too much love” while on display at City Hall.

This time, according to Skilbred, Mayor Matherly said he hopes to build a pedestal with a plexiglass covering, so that visitors can see the chair but not sit in it. “He enjoyed sitting in it. He said it was quite comfortable.”

Copyright 2020 KTVF. All rights reserved.

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