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MailTribune.com
  • Phoenix interested in 'Furry House' for downtown

  • PHOENIX — A historic house built by one of the town's pioneer families might be given a new lease on life.
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  • PHOENIX — A historic house built by one of the town's pioneer families might be given a new lease on life.
    Formerly home to one of the city's earliest pioneer families, the faded green and white "Furry House," nestled near the southerly entrance to town, may soon be moved and rehabilitated as part of a "market square" plan envisioned by the Phoenix Urban Renewal Agency.
    The nondescript 21/2;-story house was built in 1905 by descendants of Frederick Furry, who traveled the Oregon Trail as an infant and settled in Phoenix in 1860. Not a lot is known about the house, but it was one of several constructed on land owned by the family. The site once included several structures amidst acres of alfalfa fields.
    Along the eastern side of Highway 99, Furry family properties include the former site of Roscoe's BBQ, originally the "Furry Hotel," as well as at least four existing structures and a spot where a flour mill once stood.
    A few miles away, a farmhouse listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980 as the Frederick E. Furry House sits at the center of Centennial Golf Course. Visible from North Phoenix Road, the one-time ranch property belonged to Samuel and Amelia Furry, Frederick's parents. The farmhouse now provides storage and office space for the golf course.
    With development plans in place for a 27-unit apartment complex on the property where the lesser-known two-story house stands, property owner Wes Norton hopes his old foursquare with the wide porches and hipped roof can find a new life.
    "I think it would fit in with their redevelopment really nice and be a great thing for Phoenix to have. Where it is now, it's too far out of town to do anything with, and no one really knows it's there," Norton said, noting that he tried unsuccessfully to incorporate the house, which he has owned for 25 years, into redevelopment plans for the property.
    "It's from a pioneer family, so I think it would be a great asset for the city to have. Especially with all the work going on, it would fit really nicely into the downtown."
    Urban renewal specialist Marla Cates, former director of the Phoenix Urban Renewal Agency, said the house was an important piece of Phoenix history and would fit well with urban renewal plans for the downtown. A house mover has determined the house to be "very, very sturdy," she added.
    Cates said the Phoenix Urban Renewal Agency board met last week and voiced approval for the project, pending final details and cost estimates.
    "The board is very interested in accepting the donation and relocating it to the property it owns near the market hall (project) area near Main Street," Cates said.
    "But obviously no decision will be made until we get moving costs and have some contractors experienced in historic preservation give cost proposals. It's all still very preliminary."
    Historian George Kramer said the city would be wise to preserve the old house. In addition to the Furry properties along Highway 99, other Furry homesteads were likely scattered around Phoenix and Medford, Kramer said.
    An inventory of historic houses completed by Kramer last year lists the Furry Hotel, the 1900 "Robert and Elva Furry House" located next to the historic Steadman House on Second Street, and a 1926 bungalow, once owned by Raymond and Marie Furry, along Third Street.
    Kramer said the family could have had several properties in Medford, too.
    "It's funny because everybody in Phoenix knows about Colvers, but the Furry family was here for almost as long. There are descendants, and they know who they are, but I don't think they have nearly the profile of some of the other pioneer families in the valley," Kramer said.
    "The Furry family was, if nothing else, prolific," said Kramer.
    Buffy Pollock is a freelance writer living in Medford. Email her at buffyp76@yahoo.com.
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