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As It Was: Modern Retirement Home Rises on Barneburg Hill

Before World War II, the land around Barneburg Hill where Rogue Valley Manor now stands was undeveloped countryside.  Barnett was a country road and Interstate 5 didn’t exist.  The Frederick Barneburg family owned the hill and 2,000 acres surrounding it.

Barneburg was only 17 in 1853 when he joined a wagon train bound for Oregon and settled in Medford. Barneburg’s daughter Mollie lived to see the Manor’s dedication in 1961 on land she had roamed as a child.  She remembered seeing Chinese workers building the railroad.  She climbed the hill with her sister to watch the people in the flatlands below.

Barneburg began selling off pieces of his property before he died in 1907. By 1960, most of the land had been sold. Where hawks had drifted over the peaceful countryside, construction began on the 10-story retirement home.  

Gov. Mark Hatfield and radio host Paul Harvey spoke at the manor’s dedication on Nov. 4, 1961, where it was predicted the manor would provide a home for 350 people from 25 states, each of them with a view “of fields, orchards, and communities of the beautiful Rogue River Valley.”

Sources:  Miller, Betty. "'Country' around Manor Hill is no more." Medford Mail Tribune, 21 Dec. 1975, p. 8; Miller, Bill. "The enviable view young Mollie knew." Ibid. 29 Mar. 2009.           

Sharon Bywater of Ashland, Oregon grew up in Southern California. She taught English literature and writing at Syracuse University in New York, where she also wrote and edited adult literacy books and published freelance articles in local media. Later, she lived in Washington, D.C., where she worked as an international telecommunications policy advisor at the U.S. Department of Commerce. She has Master’s degrees in English and Communications Management.