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Medford fixture gets a facelift

Budge-McHugh Supply Co.'s exterior is undergoing a whitewash this week that would do Tom Sawyer proud.

The plumbing supply wholesaler's two buildings and supply yard take up the entire block bracketed by Fourth and Fifth streets on the north and south and Fir and Grape streets to the east and west.

I've been working here since 1977, and as far as I know, that was the original exterior, says Lou Budge, the vice president and general manager who oversees 21 employees. We decided it was time to spiff it up.

The property has been the site of endeavors ranging from a bakery to a branch post office and General Electric Supply. In the 1940s, Stamford, Conn.-based Crane Co., then among the largest manufacturers and distributors of plumbing supplies in the country, built the 33,000-square-foot edifice at 125 W. Fourth St.

The Budge-McHugh building was one of many constructed by contractor Marshall O. Bessonette in the 1940s and '50s. Among his other projects were the Big Y Shopping Center and Medford Plaza Apartments.

There's a good reason for the building's barrel-shaped, gym-like roof. That's because Bessonette helped build Camp White during World War II. When the camp's gym was taken down, Bessonette transported the trusses to 125 W. Fourth St.

Boyd Budge was sent to Medford to head up Crane's Southern Oregon operations. But the company's strategy changed in the late 1950s and it began to close down its smaller branches. Rather than transfer to a larger town, Budge offered to buy the local business and did so in 1959 along with partner Ken McHugh for around &

36;150,000.

An old packing house dominated the southeast corner of the property until it was razed in 1976.

It was in pretty bad shape, but we used it as long as possible, Lou Budge says.

A 12,000-square-foot warehouse was built in 1977, but for the past 25 years not much changed except for more competition.

We wanted to lighten things up and make it more inviting, Budge says. We have a (2,500-square-foot) showroom of quality distinctive fixtures and accessories, such as cabinet knobs, door pulls and hardware.

Painter Wes Kolodejchuk sprays paint on the Budge-McHugh Supply building in downtown Medford on Wednesday. Click the photo to see a larger (30k) version; use your Back button to return to the story. Mail Tribune / Jim Craven - Mail Tribune Jim Craven