SOHS Curator Tina Reuwsaat, relocated a Etagere mirror from a bedroom to the main pallor of the home. Mail Tribune Photo / Jamie Lusch

A Step into the Past

An early 1800s jacquard coverlet is among family items coming out of storage for display in the Beekman House in Jacksonville when a new series of tours begin next month.

"You don't usually see things that old in Oregon," said Southern Oregon Historical Society curator Tina Reuwsaat, who is working with the Jacksonville Heritage Society to prepare the home for its busiest tour schedule in recent years.

Theme tours will be held on the third Saturday of each month from May through November. Living History tours with actors portraying Beekman family members and others — set for second Saturdays from May through August — will offer a look into the cupboards and closets at the house.

Jackson County purchased the house and its contents during the 1960s. It had been occupied by the Beekmans, a pioneer Jacksonville family, since its construction during the 1870s until the death of Carrie Beekman in 1959. Many of the relics have been stored by the historical society for decades.

Regular tours stopped in 2009. The heritage society now leases the house.

Reuwsaat assumes the coverlet is a Beekman family heirloom. Symbols on the coverlet include a doe, wild turkeys, grape vines and what appears to be a capital building.

Also reappearing will be a silver tea service.

"I think it had pride of place in the house," said Reuwsaat. "There's cupids on swings. It's circa 1880."

The curator said the current arrangement appeared a little stark, so she has added more furnishings. Items had been removed to better protect them from light and soil.

"I've been filling up the house and putting in additional chairs and bookcases and things of that nature," said Reuwsaat. She brought back a mahogany love seat and side chairs to complete a fancy set in the parlor.

An etagere, or "what-not," has been moved from an upstairs bedroom to the parlor.

"Generally (etageres) were used to display ... things that showed the family was refined and educated and knowledgeable about travel and history," said Reuwsaat. "It's probably the second most expensive piece of furniture the Beekmans owned next to the piano."

Cupboards and closets are being restocked with linens and other items for the living history events, which will feature Carrie Beekman, brother Ben and others going through the house in 1932 after their mother, Julia, had passed away.

"I found some magazines from 1931 that belonged to the Beekmans," said Reuwsaat.

Cupboard-and-closest tours are available by reservation only with a minimum of 10 and maximum of 15 participants. Tours start at noon or 2:30 p.m. The former include a picnic lunch, followed by the tour. The latter begin with a tour and end with a dessert tea. Cost is $20. Private bookings by clubs and groups are also available.

Regular tours won't feature actors or the chance to look behind doors. They will run from noon to 4 p.m. and focus on topics ranging from horticulture and food preparation to politics and the arts. Cost is $3, $2 for children and seniors.

Reservations and additional information about the tours can be obtained by calling 541-245-3650 or by emailing

"You cannot cram so much information into one tour," said Carolyn Kingsnorth, Heritage Society president. "We are trying to offer different pieces of information that will bring people back."

Tony Boom is a freelance writer living in Ashland. Reach him at

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