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Imagine a building here

Construction begins in Jacksonville on project that will replicate two 1850s businesses

Mail Tribune

JACKSONVILLE - Change is afoot and some local merchants are glad.

"I think the main street of Jacksonville is going to liven up," said Dan Sheret, owner of the Rogue River Studios on Third Street.

Construction has begun on two new buildings on the corner of California and Third streets.

The plans, designed by architect Scott M. Pigman of Grants Pass, include two one-story buildings that will be replicas of Beekman's Express and the adjacent lawyer's office, two businesses at that location in the 1850s. The project has involved extensive research and the plans have been approved by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

"They're going to be pouring the foundation this week," said Jacksonville resident Marshall Lango, property manager for the project.

Lango said he doesn't know yet what business will occupy the new structures.

In a three-block-long downtown dependent on tourism, retail space is highly coveted.

"I think that downtown needs some retail space," said Michelle Bostrom, assistant buyer at Terra Firma on California Street. "I'm glad to see that they're choosing something historical."

She said she's sorry to lose the grassy area, and had not realized it was private property.

"It was kind of a meeting place," she said.

The property is owned by preservationist Robertson Collins, who has permitted residents to use the green spot for activities.

"He's allowed the public to use the property and didn't charge a dime," said Sheret.

Lango said he knows residents have expressed concern about the structures covering the old advertising on the brick wall next to the lot. He said the one-story structures actually will leave most of the wall uncovered.

"The only thing that's being totally obscured is probably 25 percent," he said.

Lango said he's hoping the construction project will be complete by the end of summer.

Many say the buildings will enhance the town's overall feel.

"It's going to help tie the main drag together," said Sheret.

Reach reporter Meg Landers at 776-4481 or e-mail .

Imagine a building here