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Wickersham House

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1904
  • Exterior
  • Interior

Appointed district judge for the Third Judicial District, James Wickersham moved to Eagle in 1900. In 1903 he moved the court to Fairbanks, both foreseeing and ensuring the permanence of that boomtown, and built this house for his family in 1904. Located at First and Noble streets, the house was originally just two rooms. The 14-foot-by-16-foot living room was the one-story, gable-roofed section that serves today as the dining room. A shed-roofed kitchen was attached to what is now the right end of the house; it was removed when the house was moved to Alaskaland, and the present kitchen was reconstructed.

In 1905, Wickersham added electricity to the house and set up his phonograph. The outhouse off of the kitchen was connected to the house. In 1906, he added two sections to the house. On one side of the living room, he added two rooms covered by a cross-gable roof, forming a T-plan with the original section. The addition was about 16 feet by 28 feet and became the new living room with a bedroom behind. Behind the old living room he added another room, reconstructed after the move. With the addition of a “heating plant,” Wickersham pronounced that “Our new home is done. We now have six good rooms—plenty.” Later, however, yet another shed-roofed addition was constructed in front of the bathroom.

The house as it stands today looks far tidier and more rational than its construction history would indicate, as though it were designed to be a three-room, T-shaped, gable-roofed cottage with kitchen wing. The gable roof extends to cover the entryway and is supported by turned columns; at one point this porch was enclosed, but it is now open. The wood-framed house is covered with novelty siding and has a wood-shingled roof.

The furnishings are as they would have been in Wickersham's time, with some original pieces. The hardwood floors are not original, and would have been softwood, but in general the house gives the visitor a good picture of the judge's life-style.

The house is set in a grassy yard with a picket fence. The picket fence was original to the house; Wickersham built it even before the house and was quite proud of it. The theme-park setting is unfortunate for such a carefully interpreted historic house museum.

Writing Credits

Author: 
Alison K. Hoagland
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Citation

Alison K. Hoagland, "Wickersham House", [Fairbanks, Alaska], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—, http://sah-archipedia.org/buildings/AK-01-IN010.1.

Print Source

Buildings of Alaska, Alison K. Hoagland. New York: Oxford University Press, 1993, 220-221.

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