County approves giving four historic properties to Jacksonville

Jackson County will transfer ownership of four historic properties to the City of Jacksonville.

The transfer was approved today by the Jackson County Board of Commissioners. The properties to be transferred include the Jacksonville Museum of Southern Oregon History — also known as the Jacksonville Courthouse — at 206 N. Fifth St., and additional storage buildings; the Beekman Bank, 100 W. California St.; the Catholic Rectory, 210 N. Fourth St.; and the Beekman House, 452 E. California St. All the buildings were constructed in the late 1800s. The Jacksonville Heritage Society had been managing the buildings for SOHS.

Jackson County officials have said the county lacks the resources to continue maintenance and care of the properties, and that the transfer is in the public's best interest.

"The City of Jacksonville desires to obtain these properties to help ensure that these historically significant properties are properly cared for and maintained and that the public interest may be furthered," County Administrator Danny Jordan said in a board letter.

A deed conveying each of the properties to Jacksonville will be issued within 30 days.

"It's a really good deal," Commissioner Don Skundrick said at the public meeting.

The buildings had previously been managed by the Southern Oregon Historical Society with a lease agreement from Jackson County. SOHS had experienced financial woes following state legislation that combined all county-related levies into a single tax rate and allowed counties to allocate those funds at their discretion. The county had tapped into $1 million of historical preservation funds following the measure's passage and weren't providing any funds to SOHS by 2007. The two sides settled after a legal battle over the funds, and the funding stream was eliminated.

"This is a win-win situation for everybody," Commissioner C.W. Smith said of the transfer. "I'm pretty excited to see (the Courthouse) building be brought back into utilization."

— Ryan Pfeil

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