Repair effort begins at Beekman House

JACKSONVILLE — When they saw the historic Beekman House's wood shingle roof needed replacement, two retired high school art teachers stepped forward with a $6,000 gift toward the work and repairs to the home's front porch.

"I just want to preserve it. The roof is the big thing. Hopefully we can get enough donations and enough community support to get that done," said Warren Strauss, one of the donors. He and Ray Foster, the other donor, both live in Jacksonville.

The 1873 home of Cornelius Beekman, a pioneer civic leader and the town's first banker, is still furnished with original artifacts of the Beekman family. The home was closed to the public in 2009, but has reopened this year for tours by the Jacksonville Heritage Society.

The pair's generosity has launched a larger fundraising effort.

"We were just going to do the porch, but we knew the roof needed to be done too," said Heritage Society President Carolyn Kingsnorth. "When Ray and Warren came forward it just made a great combination."

A $30,000 goal has been set for the drive. The roof will cost $20,000 and the porch and stair work will cost $10,000. The society will apply for grants that require a 50 percent community match, said Kingsnorth.

Besides the $6,000 gift, the society has received $3,000 from a City Lodging Tax Grant and will receive half the proceeds from the Presbyterian Church's June 9 Strawberry Festival for the drive.

Strauss' roots go back to pioneers who settled the Rogue Valley. He has lived in Jacksonville for eight years after a 28-year career teaching art at Ashland High School. He also lived in Jacksonville as a young child during World War II.

Foster has lived near the Beekman House for over 30 years. He joined with other area residents 25 years ago to prevent sale of land adjacent to the house to developers. That effort led to creation of the Beekman Woods and founding of the Jacksonville Woodland Association. He taught in the Eagle Point School District.

Living history tours, which require a reservation, are held on the second Saturday of each month through August. Public tours, which cost $3, are available on the third Saturdays from noon to 4 p.m. through November.

For more information on tours and donations check the Heritage Society's Facebook page, email or call 541-245-3650.

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

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