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Britt festival strikes deal to purchase historic hotel building in Jacksonville

An old, brick building with a large wooden balcony along the entire second floor. A sign along the top says, "United States Hotel, Jacksonville, OR"
Carol Highsmith
Library of Congress
The United States Hotel in Jacksonville in 2018

The Britt Music and Arts Festival has struck a deal with Jackson County to purchase a historic building in Jacksonville. Once the sale is finalized, the festival has plans to convert the building into an office and performance space.

The $1.45 million dollar purchase would further cement the Britt Festival’s role as a major economic driver in Jacksonville, where the festival grounds are located.

The 10,000-square-foot U.S. Hotel was constructed in the late 1880s, and is currently rented out to an antiques business.

This iconic building would be home to the Britt Festival offices, which are currently located in Medford.

Britt Festival President Abby McKee said they've been looking to move their offices to Jacksonville for 35 years.

“Britt is a 501(c)(3) non-profit, and for us to amass support and funding to be able to purchase a new building, that’s a pretty major undertaking,” McKee said.

Jacksonville is also a tricky place to find a property like the one Britt staff were looking for, she said, because of the city’s many historic buildings and the lack of real estate to meet their needs.

McKee said the reason for their current Medford location is because many Britt patrons used to come from East Medford, and having the box office located closer made things easier before most tickets were sold online.

McKee said they’re planning on renovating the U.S. Hotel building to include a performance and education space upstairs.

“The ability to have a space that is our home, where we can welcome people in and have interactive opportunities, where people can be learning new skills or just experiencing the arts, that’s been a really exciting prospect for us,” McKee said.

It will take a few years to renovate the building, according to McKee. That includes things like seismic upgrades and installing an elevator.

Jackson County commissioners previously delayed a vote to sell the building to Somar Family Vineyards after the Britt Festival submitted a competing offer.

McKee said they’re currently in escrow while final inspections take place.

Roman Battaglia is a regional reporter for Jefferson Public Radio. 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 JPR newsroom.