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Jacksonville looks at bringing a museum back to the city

An old brick building. In front, there are two large windows and a double door. Above the door is a sign that says "city hall"
Ken Gregg
Jacksonville's old city hall building, constructed in 1881

Historic Jacksonville, Oregon has been without a museum since 2010. But new efforts could bring a modern museum experience to the 19th century gold mining town.

Visitors in Southern Oregon know Jacksonville for its frozen-in-time quality, transporting people back to the 1800’s.

But the city has been without a museum since 2010, when Jackson County sold the former museum site because of rising maintenance costs.

City council member Ken Gregg says he’s been working on a plan to bring back a museum to the city for the last six months.

"As a councilor I pretty much invariably once a week have somebody ask me ‘are we ever gonna get a museum back in Jacksonville?’ And It’s been on my mind for years," Gregg says. "And that just confirms that we need it.”

Gregg says the currently vacant old city hall building is the perfect museum site. He says it would just be a starting point for the innovative experience.

“I realized that the city itself is a museum," he says. "That the real value of all the significant historic features are in the buildings.”

Gregg plans on creating virtual tours using a program called ECHOES, which allows visitors to download an app on their phone, and then view historical photos and information when passing by a landmark.

He says when finished, visitors can choose to either pick a specific tour — such as one stopping at historic churches, a 30-minute long tour or one for people with disabilities — or they can wander around the city and the app will notify them about historically significant buildings nearby.

Gregg says much of the information for the buildings has already been written, as part of the Walk Through History blog on Historic Jacksonville Inc.'s website.

The city recently approved moving forward with the project, and staff will start looking at what needs to be done to begin renovations.

Gregg estimates the total renovations costs at around $270,000, with most of the money going into ensuring the building is ADA accessible.

He expects to fund the renovation through grants, and hopes to use city lodging tax funds for ongoing museum costs.

Gregg says he’s already working with the city on developing the virtual tour, and hopes to have the brick and mortar site opened in the next couple of years.

After graduating from Oregon State University, Roman came to JPR as part of the Charles Snowden Program for Excellence in Journalism in 2019. He then joined Delaware Public Media as a Report For America fellow before returning to the west coast.