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Historic warehouse set for demolition

The Historic Commission unanimously gave the thumbs up to the demolition of a 1913 brick building in the downtown historic district Tuesday, and the property owner plans to erect a concrete and stucco building in its place.

Historic Commissioner Cathy DeWolfe said that while there was discussion at the meeting about pursuing restoration of the 11,500-square-foot building at 112 and 114 S. Riverside Ave., the building owner says engineering reports show the building is in such bad shape that restoration would be impractical.

Some people have mixed feelings about the thought of losing an old building downtown.

It's always a shame when a historic building is torn down, said Kurt Olsen, director of the Medford Urban Renewal Agency.

— He added that sometimes in the process of weighing benefits, people find it doesn't pay to save old structures.

George Kramer, historian and adviser for MURA's downtown facade improvement program, said he's not familiar with the details of this structure, but in general he supports considering restoration.

If you choose to, you can renovate or repair just about anything, he said.

Kramer said because the downtown historic area is on the national registry, this is a good opportunity for downtown building owners to look into federal, state and city grants and incentives.

It just takes the person who has the vision and wants to do it, Kramer said.

But it typically costs much more to restore such buildings than to replace them.

The pale yellow building between Riverside Avenue and Bartlett Street and Eighth and Ninth Streets was built in 1913 by F.&A.C. Hubbard, most likely as a warehouse for additional storage for their nearby hardware and implement business, according to Southern Oregon Historical Society records.

In 1927 it became the Pierce-Allen Motor Co., and around 1941 L.C. Taylor bought the property and remodeled it and put an addition on the building.

In 1947 Charles A. Wing acquired the property and it has housed a variety of businesses since, including the Oak Merchant, until the building was deemed unsafe by the building department two years ago. It has remained vacant since.

Chris Reising, director of the Medford Building Department, said he labeled the building unsafe two years ago because he saw structural problems such as a failing roof structure, deteriorated mortar joints in the walls and insufficient connections between some of the beams and columns.

We require it to be rehabilitated or demolish it, he said.

Jim Garrison, the building's owner, said the brick walls are too unstable.

We had two different engineering firms look at it and both of them said 'no way', he said.

Nobody that I know wants to save the building, including the historic commission.

Although Garrision said he plans to put a furniture business inside the new 13,000-square-foot building, it is for sale while he's waiting to hear about loan approval.

MURA's Olsen said it's up to the property owner to save or demolish a building.

From our end we don't really get involved in those decisions, he said.

Kramer said many wonderful old structures are scattered around Medford.

The one thing you can say about 100-year-old buildings, said Kramer, is they're not building any more of them.

This 1913 F. & A. C. Hubbard warehouse is set for demolition. Located between Riverside Avenue and Bartlett Street in downtown Medford, it most recently housed a furniture store until the city declared the building unsafe two years ago. Mail Tribune / Bob Pennell - Mail Tribune Bob Pennell