Arguably the most beautiful building downtown, the old Unites States Courthouse and Post office on Cushman Street and 3rd Avenue, is being painted. JL Properties, Inc. should be thanked for their efforts to beautify our downtown by renovating (via paint) this iconic structure.
The art deco style and sumptuousness of the Fairbanks Courthouse, now an office building with a wide variety of professional tenants, makes one dream of times gone past. When, evidently, we people (even us tough Alaskans) considered stateliness to be paramount. The brass borders, high ceilings, cast aluminum doors and bronze postal boxes illustrate a grandeur unparallel by any modern Alaskan structure. The iron work on the facade is the symbolic eagle; and the entryway, stairs, restrooms and much of the flooring is embellished with either white or black marble.
Historically significant for many reasons, the Courthouse was built in 1934, on land that was donated by District Judge James Wickersham. Prior to Wickersham, the land was actually a part of E.T. Barnette’s original 10 acre trading post site. Two courthouses were built that succumbed to fire, and in 1929 the Federal Government allocated $420,000 for a third courthouse to be built. Originally the building was courthouse, post office and jail.
At the turn of the century it was thought that cement could not withstand Alaska’s extreme temperatures, over time, cement was improved and approved for use in Northern climes and the courthouse became the first cement building built in Alaska. George N. Ray, a period architect of renown from Washington D.C., designed the elegant building for the Federal Government.
Come see the old Courthouse with a fresh coat of paint, take a moment to wander inside and appreciate this splendid example of 80 year old art deco, right here in downtown Fairbanks.