First Presbyterian Church, Fairbanks AK, circa 1920
October 2016; (64°50’26″N 147°43’20″W)
Background: This is the oldest church in Fairbanks and originally had the stained glass windows from the Chena mission cabin. It was moved along the street in the 1930s, and then again in 1966 to its current location in Pioneer Park. Its original location is still home to Fairbanks’ First Presbyterian Church, but the building is new.
Tastes- nothing in particular
Smells- slightly dusty; very faint old wood smell;
Feels- the air is still; the pew has a narrow pad that makes it a little softer, but the back of the pew is just hard wood; the press of my snowpants against the pew is a little cold on the backs of my legs; the wood of the pew is just a little rough along the edges of the back and sides, but the edge of the seat where the knees rest is worn smooth; I’m bundled head to toe, but I’ve taken off my hood and gloves, so my body is warm, but my face and fingers a little cold by comparison;
Sounds- the creaking of the floor whenever I move; the wind moving outside the windows; otherwise, it is very quiet (I almost want to play the piano);
Sights- high ceiling, hung with triple-bulbed lanterns of brass and white glass; wood floors painted a pale brown; five rows of pews varnished a warm golden color; the backs of the pews have holders for hymnbooks and paper and pens, although they’re all empty right now; a red carpet runs between the pews from the door up to front, and then widens to cover the central half and a raised dais upon which is a wooden altar with square paneling and a central cross; above the altar on the back wall hangs a picture of the Resurrected Christ, his arms open to me; red curtains hand from the sides of glass pane windows, the window frames painted pale blue; it’s dark outside, despite being the nearly midday, and the only light comes from the lamps overhead; to the front and left of the chapel, a pulpit stands to the left side of the front carpeted area, just in front of a small organ against the back corner, and a flight of stairs past an open doorway; to the right, a music stand faces the pews just in front of a black upright piano, both before a second open doorway leading down an unlit hallway;