Jacksonville's oldest building gets facelift

JACKSONVILLE — The town's oldest brick building is getting a facelift in time for the town's sesquicentennial celebration in September.

A $17,000 state Historical Preservation Grant for the 1854 Brunner Building, at the corner of Oregon and Main streets, has been matched with money from the city's Historic Preservation Fund. Work will include replacement of failing bricks and mortar.

"It will keep the bricks from continuing to deteriorate. When the mortar is missing, those brick are likely to fall apart," said Jacksonville resident Steve Earl, the contractor.

The 52-by-26-foot building was deeded to city in 1956 by Leona Ulrich Hanna.

"There's stuff that's not historically accurate that we wanted to remove, and we wanted to repair some of the brick," said Aaron Reyna, a city intern who secured the state grant.

Earl is uncovering distinctive attributes as work proceeds.

"They are very unusual bricks. They are 9 inches long and 2 inches thick," Earl said. "A standard brick is 7 5/8 by 2 3/8 inches."

Earl has been involved in other brick restoration projects in the area, including the 1900 Ashland Peerless Hotel, 1908 Central Point School, 1863 Jacksonville Inn and 1908 Jacksonville School.

J.A. Brunner and his brothers had the building erected in 1854 for use as a general goods store. Women and children were reportedly housed inside during the Rogue Indian War of 1855-56. It was used also as a carriage repair shop and for grain storage, said Reyna. From 1921 to 2002 it served as the city's library. Jacksonville Senior Center now runs a thrift shop at the site.

Future restoration will include seismic reinforcement, roof repair and replacement of roof beams.

— Tony Boom, for the Mail Tribune

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