August 20 is Ester’s only national holiday, the birthday of Ansgar Clausen, who built and lived in the log cabin located just off the village square at 3629 Main Street across the street from the Golden Eagle Saloon. You can find it here.
History of the Clausen Cabin:
The Clausen facility was once the home of Ansgar and Ida Clausen. Ansgar lived for another ten years in the cabin after the death of his wife, and then the cabin was later purchased by Lynn and Ray Kulp, retirees who came north to be near their grandchildren. The Kulps lived in the village for another ten years and were known locally for their generosity to the community and their excellent ice cream. Lynn Kulp continues to live in the Fairbanks area. The Kulp family grandchildren and children are, we hope, to be among the direct beneficiaries of the Clausen Cabin’s availability as an expanded library.
About the Cabin and Its Grounds:
The cabin and its three outbuildings and historic gardens are in the heart of the village. We’ve developed a new plan to include an office, ADA-approved bathroom, and plenty of room for books, of course! (View the floor plan here.) The cabin itself is being insulated and sheetrocked, the floor strengthened to take the weight of books and shelving, rewired and painted, interior framing, and otherwise improved to use as an expanded library space. (The cabin is about 720 sq ft on the interior, twice the size of the room in the red and white building we rent from Frank. It has running water, too.) The outbuildings include a white clapboard miner’s cabin, a toolshed, and an old log sauna (all currently used for storage).
The grounds also include an old outhouse, Ida Laine’s perennial gardens, a gazebo and a playhouse for children installed by the Kulps, and a small community garden available to library members.
About the Clausens:
Ansgar Clausen and his wife, Ida, were longtime residents of Ester, known for their gardens, generosity, and entertaining. Ida Laine was the stage name for Eleanor Loback Garwood, a talented jazz musician, piano player, and singer in the Malemute Saloon variety show—indeed, she helped to write the show. She was a superb cook, and wrote and published a cookbook. Several of her recipes are still distributed by the Cooperative Extension Service. Her old Monarch four-burner cast iron cook stove and oven is still in the cabin, where it has served in the past as backup heat when the power has gone out. The Ida Laine Clausen Gazebo is named in her honor.
Ansgar first arrived in Fairbanks in May 1940, coming up from Seward on the train.* He became an engineer and miner and employee of the Fairbanks Exploration Company, was a dragline crewmember and Cat operator, and helped move Dragline No. 6 to Sheep Creek in the winter of 1957-1958. (An audio interview with Ansgar Clausen is available at the Rasmuson Library about working for the F.E. Company.) He later worked for the Alaska Department of Transportation. He was known for his gardening, fondness for storytelling and tall tales, and cabinet of whiskey for himself and his many visitors and friends. He and Ida dated for many years in a great and still-talked about romance, but did not marry until 1974, the year this cabin was built.
* For more on Ansgar’s early time in Alaska, see Letters to Arthur, reprinted from The Ester Republic.