A walk down Minnie Street in Fairbanks – October 2015
|View from Illinois Street looking east down Minnie Street towards Noyes Slough|
The powers that be keep talking about “improving ” Minnie Street,” which connects Illinois Street with the east side of town. Minnie is a narrow, two-lane road with a narrow sidewalk along one side. Improving would probably mean widening and putting in properly sized sidewalks on both sides of the street. That means that at least some of the old houses along the street will probably disappear.
|Old houses on west end of Minnie Street|
This whole area was pretty much rural up until the 1930s. Charles Slater had a homestead east of Illinois Street that stretched to Noyes Slough. On the other side of Noyes Slough was Graehl, a tiny log-cabin settlement, that, according to Terremce Cole’s report, “Historic Resources of the Minnie Street Corridor,” was populated mainly by bachelor prospectors and Native families.
|Old houses on east end of Minnie Street|
Slater began subdividing and selling his land in 1939, coinciding with the beginning of Ladd Field. I suppose much of the development in the area is attributable to the military build-up in Fairbanks during and after World War II. I think Most of the residences in the area date from the 1940s through the 1950s.
I though I would take a walk along the street and record the older buildings before they disappear. My little tour is from the Noyes Slough
bridge to Illinois Street. I didn’t photograph all the buildings, just the ones that caught my eye.
The bridge over Noyes Slough. This bridge and the Wendell Street Bridge across the Chena River were both built in 1953, taking pressure off the Cushman Street bridge and Illinois Street for moving traffic across the river from downtown Fairbanks.
Rod’s Saw Shop – an early light industrial building next to the slough. I have always thought the second floor of this building would be a great place for artists’ studios
The old Chandler Plumbing buildings – another example of the commercialized east end of Minnie Street. Now closed, it used to have a business on the ground floor and apartments on the second floor.
The old Johnny’s Express building. Johnny’s was a fuel oil delivery service.
The Northside Grocery and Service Station Building – built in 1952. This was the site of the first self-service gas pumps in Fairbanks
Antique shop at the corner of Minnie and Fulton Streets
The Tamarac Inn, built in the early 1950s, was a small motel cobbled together out of surplus military buildings from Ladd Field. The electricity to the place was turned off last winter, and it has sat vacant since then. I talked with one of the workers, who said they are rehabbing the building.
The “Mormon Chapel,” built in 1952. It used to look much more impressive when it actually had a steeple instead of just a cross. It is now a non-denominational church.
The Minnie Street Inn. The blue building in the front is the original structure (much altered). The building to the right is a later addition to the inn.
The Noyes House, built in about 1911 by Frederick Noyes, who owned the Tanana Mill lumber yard. It used to have a third story.