House of Wickersham project derailed by governor’s veto

House of Wickersham

The House of Wickersham sits on 7th Street in Juneau’s Chicken Ridge neighborhood. (Photo by Casey Kelly/KTOO)

Gov. Sean Parnell has vetoed a bill that would have made the House of Wickersham in Juneau the lieutenant governor’s residence.

House Bill 246 also would have incorporated four parcels of state-owned land next to Creamer’s Field Migratory Waterfowl Refuge in Fairbanks. The purpose was to clarify the Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s management authority over the parcels. The House of Wickersham provision was added to the bill late in this year’s legislative session at the request of Juneau Sen. Dennis Egan.

Juneau’s legislative delegation has long sought to turn the Victorian home on Chicken Ridge into the lieutenant governor’s house. It’s named for James Wickersham, a pre-statehood judge, delegate to Congress and scholar.

Egan says it’s a shame the second highest office holder in the executive branch does not have an official residence in the capital city.

“That building is sitting vacant a great deal of the year,” Egan says. “And why not make it a residence for the lieutenant governor?”

In a press release announcing the veto, Parnell did not take issue with the House of Wickersham provision. Instead, he blamed errors in the legal description of parcels adjacent to Creamer’s Field that were discovered after the bill passed. Parnell also said the refuge designation would unfairly burden the property owners should they ever seek to sell.