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As It Was: Jacksonville, Ore., Builds First City Hall in 1881

It was late January 1881 when a woman who had imbibed “too much tangle-foot” became the first occupant of the jail in the new city hall in Jacksonville, Ore.

A store on the corner of Oregon and Main Street seems to have been abandoned before the city bought the lot in 1880.  There was considerable conversation about remodeling the store, but it was decided to have Peter Brevert demolish it and clean the basement.

City board members Nathaniel Langell and Christopher Ulrich designed the new building.  Longtime Jacksonville furniture maker David Linn won the contract to build the city hall, which he completed in a few months.

For a total of $2,570, equivalent to about $65,000 present-day dollars, Jacksonville created a spacious meeting room, an office for the town clerk, the calaboose, or jail, a bell-topped fire house and a hand-drawn pumper.  Small taxes on residents, businesses, and other city revenue paid off the costs in two years.

It was a good investment.  The building served as City Hall for 70 years and remains standing today as a historical Jacksonville feature.

Source: "Fact and Fiction Concerning Jacksonville City Hall." Mail Tribune, 13 Jan. 1980 [Medford Oregon] , p. 2B.

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.