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Return to:   The Moveable Church: St. Joseph's of Fairbanks (SLIDESHOW) - Fairbanks was a frontier town when a Jesuit priest named Rev. Francis M. Monroe decided to build a church and hospital.
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A view of St. Joseph's church

A view of St. Joseph’s church and hospital before the church roof was changed and the belfry added. An article appearing in Jessen’s Weekly, July 8, 1954, recounted the cost of building: “Following the discovery of gold by Felix Pedro, several thousand people rushed into the promising area and among them were many Catholics. The price of real estate and labor was beyond the means of the Jesuits, so a group of local men organized for the purpose of raising the necessary finances for a church. A rough 65-by-30-foot structure was erected at the cost of $6,512. A keg of eight-penny nails cost $50 at the time. Father [Francis] Monroe traveled all over the mining camps and around in Interior Alaska soliciting help and finally raised $4,795.75. This, added to the $3,051 the committee of men had collected, enabled the missionary to pay off the debt and decorate the church and also install a small library along with his living quarters. Not a few people in the camp criticized Father severely for what they thought was too large a building, saying there would never be enough Catholics in Fairbanks to justify the size.” In 1910, the population of Fairbanks was 3,541 and growing. Archives, University of Alaska Fairbanks.

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