North Pole is renowned as the "home of Santa Claus." Letters from children all over the world are mailed to North Pole at Christmas each year. It began in 1944 when Bon Davis homesteaded the area. A development company later bought the homestead, subdivided it, and named it North Pole. The company had hoped to attract a toy manufacturer that would advertise products made in North Pole. Subsequently the Santa Claus House was developed by Con Miller and his family, and has become a year-round attraction.
The city was incorporated in 1953. Growth from Fairbanks and nearby Eielson Air Force Base has increased development over the years. Catholic presence likewise developed over the years. In the 1950's and 1960's priests from Fairbanks visited North Pole and celebrated Mass in private homes. In the early 1970's, a Sister of St. Ann did much to pull the community together. Using the North Pole Grange Hall as a home base, she coordinated Masses with visiting priests; led Communion Services when no priests were available; and established Bible study and prayer groups. The Grange Hall became a gathering place for the fledgling Catholic community.
On September 28, 1975, Bishop Robert Whelan, S.J., celebrated Mass at the Grange Hall. At that Mass, Bishop Whelan officially established the parish of St. Nicholas at North Pole.
But the parish needed a worship space of its own. Earlier, in the 1960's, the newly established Diocese of Fairbanks had purchased land in North Pole with an eye toward building, but had not been able to do so. Then, in the 1970's, area residents Ken and June Ulz generously donated the parcel of land on which St. Nicholas now sits, and the Diocese sold the land it had bought. In the summer of 1975 a double-wide modular home with a large basement was erected at the site. This served as a temporary church and home for the first pastoral team of St. Nicholas, one Paulist priest and one Paulist seminarian.
Finally, on May 7, 1978, ground-breaking ceremonies took place for the new church building. Much of the construction was done by parishioners and the church was quickly completed. Its Alaskana interior included a beautiful diamond willow cross, a log altar, and a tabernacle styled as an Alaskan cache.
A number of Paulist priests have served at St. Nicholas since its humble beginnings. Later the parish was also served by Franciscan and Diocesan priests. The parish has one deacon who was a founding member of the parish before being ordained to the permanent diaconate. Faithful parish coordinators have also contributed to parish formation. A Diocesan priest is the present pastor.