Sunday, February 14, 2010

Southern Oregon Historical Society Looks to the Past for a Future

The NY Time reported on this Historical Society's plans to sell some of its historic properties. As the article relates:

They say economic collapse is what froze this place in time, a gold rush relic all but abandoned when the railroad passed it by. Decades later, that chance preservation positioned Jacksonville to benefit from new interest in the past. Boutiques moved to quaint California Street. Californians soon moved to town.

The U.S. Hotel building in Jacksonville, Ore., is one of the 19th-century buildings that a historical society has proposed selling. A high-end housing development, Nunan Square, is a recent addition to the historic town.

History sells, but now Jacksonville may learn that, the hard way.

The Southern Oregon Historical Society, which controls five of the most prominent historic properties in a town that is itself a historic district, has proposed selling some of the sites as a way to prevent the organization’s own economic collapse. After changes in state and county tax policies left it without a clear revenue stream in the 1990s and several short-term measures since then have run their course, the society says it is essentially out of money.

Last September, the society shut down the Jacksonville Museum, housed in a former courthouse from the 1880s. It has also closed the rectory of a local Roman Catholic church, built in the 1860s, and Beekman Bank, which still houses scales used to weigh gold. The rectory and the bank, as well as the U.S. Hotel, built in the 1880s, are among the properties the society said it hoped to sell. Read more here.

This is a trend across the country. Museums and cultural organizations have found themselves in the position of multiple properties with no way to sustain them, let alone maintain them. With facilities literally bleeding these organizations dry, what other alternatives do they have? Have your comments on this article? Share them here.

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