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As It Was: Liberty Park Neighborhood Rises on Rabbit Scrubland

Medford, Ore., quadrupled in size from 1900 to 1910, one of the fastest growing towns in America.  Its second elementary school was built in 1906 on rabbit scrubland just north of town.  Two nearby subdivisions sprang up with small houses on small lots and were annexed to the city.  The area became known as the Liberty Park neighborhood.

The 1910 census shows about a third of the homes in Liberty Park were rentals.  Most of the people were laborers in the building trades or the orchards.  The town’s population included European immigrants and widows who took in laundry.  Families were often small and multi-generational.  With the tight housing market in Medford, many families had boarders.  People frequently moved away.

Over time, this blue-collar neighborhood began to decline as it was squeezed by businesses built on surrounding main streets.  By the 1950s, vacant lots became apartment buildings. The school closed and eventually became the Cornerstone Christian Fellowship, which, along with the Salvation Army, Kids Unlimited and its charter school and a tiny park, make up the neighborhood’s public sector today.

Source: Mullaly, Alice. Unpublished manuscript written 28 Dec. 2017. Available at Southern Oregon Historical Society Research Library, Medford Vertical File

Alice Mullaly is a graduate of Oregon State and Stanford University, and taught mathematics for 42 years in high schools in Nyack, New York; Mill Valley, California; and Hedrick Junior High School in Medford. Alice has been an Southern Oregon Historical Society volunteer for nearly 30 years, the source of many of her “As It Was” stories.