Saturday, September 28, 2013

Discovering Jacksonville, OR

Scheduling a day to see Crater Lake should not require consulting long range weather forecasts during our one-week stay in south central Oregon, but it has.
So while waiting for that one-day window to travel to our primary objective while in this area north of Medford, OR, we found a nearby destination that could be enjoyed between intermittent showers. Our “find”—and indeed it was a most enjoyable one—was Jacksonville, just a few miles south of Medford.
Historians would say that gold was responsible for Jacksonville’s founding, and I would credit Peter Britt for the look of the town today.

Following the discovery of gold in 1851, the rapidly growing town had over 2000 residents. Over the years, Jacksonville has survived the division of the town’s population during the Civil War, a smallpox epidemic in 1868, a flood in 1869, the rerouting of the railroad in 1884, and numerous fires.

Peter Britt’s* role in the city’s appearance today is based on his work as a photographer and horticulturist. This old west town has over 90 original brick and wooden buildings that date back to the 1850s. Using the 100-year-old photographs of Britt’s, many have been restored to their original state. Strolling by the historic buildings on Oregon and California Streets took us back to the frontier days of this mining town.

We began our walk on 3rd Street on the way to California Street.
Patrick J. Ryan Dwelling House, c. 1856

One of several brick structures associated with Patrick J. Ryan, whose prior experience with fires led him to insist on owning fireproof brick buildings. It has served as a hotel, a restaurant, an "ice cream saloon," and today is home to a wine tasting room.

Along California Street

Our walk around the center of town** between periods of showers revealed why Jacksonville is one of only a few cities in the United States designated as a National Historic Landmark.
Along California Street
Redmen's Hall, 1884 (left) and the Kubli Building, 1884

The two-story brick structure served as the home of the Redmen Pocahontas Tribe No. 1 I.O.R.M. following an 1884 fire that destroyed the fraternity's previous building. The tribe was formed in April 1870 and most members of the society were German. By 1891, the Redmen were forced to relinquish title to the building when they were unable to pay off building loans. After the Redmen vacated, a general store, a hardware store, a succession of saloons (now the Boomtown Saloon) occupied the first floor.

With a facade nearly identical to the Redmen's Hall, the Kubli Building housed a general store and tinsmith shop and a farming and mining supply store over the years.
The east wall of the Redmen's Hall is covered with vintage advertising signs, including one for Levi Strauss overalls.
Anderson & Glenn General Merchandise Store, (left) 1856 and Glen Drum Hotel & General Merchandise, 1856

The Anderson and Glenn Store survived each of the major fires that destroyed many other downtown buildings, making it one of Jacksonville's oldest. In 1884, the building briefly served as the post office. The building remained a general merchandise store until around 1900. Today it houses the J'ville Tavern.

The two-story Drum Hotel has at various times housed a grocery store, variety store and a Saloon. The street level has been altered from its original design.

Miller Gunsmith Shop, 1858 (left) and Martin & Sigler Blacksmith Shop, 1859

The former Gunsmith Shop now houses a women's boutique.
The former blacksmith shop is now home to the Umpqua Valley Wine Bar.
Masonic Building Warren Lodge No. 10, 1875

Our walk around the corner and down the other side of the street continues tomorrow.

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* Britt also took the first photos of Crater Lake, and these photographs later aided in the decision to designate it as a National Park. His elaborate and extensive gardens, (the Peter Britt Gardens), were the site of the original Peter Britt Music Festival. The festival has grown to include internationally renowned performers, and features jazz, popular, classical, bluegrass and country music, as well as dance, musical theater, Broadway musicals and more. It is a series of approximately 40 concerts, scheduled from the last week of June through the first week of September.

** Jacksonville was designated a National Historic District in 1966, and the town has done an excellent job of identifying these buildings with a map and descriptive pamphlet of the town, identifying plaques on buildings, and descriptions of the buildings on the internet (e.g., google the building name and “Jacksonville, OR” and go to the waymarking.com web page listing).

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