Historic Fairbanks church undergoes renovation

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Published: Jun. 14, 2022 at 6:03 PM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - The First Presbyterian Church at Pioneer Park is the oldest church in Fairbanks.

Since 1904, it has hosted congregations and weddings, practices that continue to this day. “You have multiple families that have had three or four generations all been married in this little, tiny chapel,” said Donnie Hayes, Director of the Fairbanks North Star Borough Parks and Recreation Department.

Since 1967, the building has been housed in Pioneer Park.

Then in 2018, the Fairbanks community had a shock when the roof of its historic Masonic Temple collapsed. “We began looking at our facilities even closer, just looking at things that might be issues,” Hayes said.

When examined, First Presbyterian showed signs of instability. “The pressure from the roof was actually putting that additional pressure right there on the walls, making it start to cup,” Hayes explained, adding, “There were some structural beams on the foundation that were missing. We found rot on some of those beams.”

The renovation project began in summer 2021, ending in the fall.

Hayes explained that in addition to removing rot and strengthening the foundation, “Our contractor took I-Beams, some big, large, metal beams, and actually put it through the front entrance of the whole building, and slid them through, put the I-Beams in the roof, and then it’s supported by I-Beams as well, and so we tied that whole structure together.”

A ribbon cutting ceremony in May 2022 marked the return of events and services at the location.

According to Hayes, the interior of the church has also been repainted ”so that way we know that everything is just clean and ready for the folks.”

Locals and tourists are invited to tour the facility 7 days a week.

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