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Historic Talent garage gets money to rebuild after Almeda Fire

The Malmgren garage features a stepped-roof architectural style common in the 1920's
Roman Battaglia
Jefferson Public Radio
The Malmgren garage features a stepped-roof architectural style common in the 1920's

The historic Malmgren Garage in downtown Talent has received a state grant to help with reconstruction after the 2020 wildfire.

The garage was originally built in the 1920s and served as one of the first car service stations in the area.

It stood for 96 years before being largely destroyed in the 2020 Almeda Fire. The fire devastated the towns of Talent and Phoenix, destroying thousands of homes and businesses.

Now, owner and artist Bonnie Morgan plans to bring the concrete shell of a building back to life, with the help of a $200,000 main street revitalization grant from the Oregon heritage division of the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department.

The rehabilitation grants are intended to "facilitate community revitalization that will lead to private investment, job creation or retention, establishing or expanding viable businesses, or creating a stronger tax base," according to a state press release.

Morgan is still talking with business owners to find out what the building could be used for once it's restored.

“I think once we start building when people will get a better feel for what the timeline is, I think there'll be more interest at that time," she says.

Before the fire, the building was home to Morgan's pottery supply business.

Architect Chris Brown is part of the team helping to restore the historic structure.

“It has many lifetimes that have used and lived through this building," Brown says. "And then here we are standing at the cusp of the past, through the present and into the future with what comes next in this building.”

Brown spoke last month before an art show showcasing local work inspired by the Almeda Fire.

The team is also trying to get the building on the National Register of Historic Places for its role in the development of Talent and the Pacific Highway.

Morgan is hosting an open house and art show on June 1st in the garage shell.

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.