Rainey Cabin
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Froelich Rainey Cabin

Local historical societies consider a historic university site, the Froelich Rainey Cabin, as an endangered historic site. It can be seen on any easy walk around campus.

The singular log cabin has been associated with the school's anthropology department since Rainey, its first professor, had it built in 1936. Located on Yukon Drive on the campus, the cabin is a well-built log structure with three rooms, a bath and a basement. One of the striking architectural features is the stone fireplace inlaid with clay idols reminiscent of Rainey's archaeological work in Haiti. While contractor T.S. Batchelder built the cabin for the Raineys, he once admitted that his wife built most of the fireplace.

World War II forced the Raineys to leave campus only about six years later . The university then bought the property from them to use for faculty housing (usually members of the anthropology department). Probably the best-known resident there was Ivar Skarland, who moved there in the late 1940s and lived there nearly continuously for about 15 years.

While he lived there, people called the cabin simply ``Ivar's.'' Because of its location on the campus ski trail, it was a popular warm-up spot for skiers, hikers, or even people out driving. Faculty, students, and town residents were equally welcome.

Occasionally, Skarland  shared the cabin with other university employees. One time it was three men: himself, campus librarian John Mehler, and paleontologist Otto W. Geist. People knew Skarland and Geist in particular for the elaborate dinners they hosted, featuring dishes from Skarland's native Norway and Geist's homeland, Bavaria.

But the biggest social event at the cabin was the commencement day reception in 1951. In addition to university president Terris Moore and his wife and the Board of Regents, guests included Gov. Ernest Gruening, the Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces, and the governor of California. The dignitaries were impressed with the view as well as the famous Alaskan hospitality.

Although Skarland, Geist and Mehler all died in the mid-1960s, the university continued to use the Rainey cabin for faculty housing, as it does even today. Rainey's cabin is listed on the National Register.

 

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