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As It Was: Rebirth of a abandoned mansion

In 1910, the famous architect Frank Clark built a mansion on Medford’s Carpenter Hill for George and Rhea Carpenter. It was a perfect place to hold elaborate parties — and they did.

Grace Fiero, a Broadway actress, remembers attending their parties where cocktails and wine flowed. But that was all before George and Rhea seemed to have taken “the pledge.”

No one knows why, but after one of their lavish parties around 1926, the Carpenters immediately bolted from the house, leaving everything, and never returned. There is speculation that Rhea Carpenter felt socially snubbed, since some of their invited guests instead attended another party where alcohol was served.

Perhaps out of spite, the Carpenters forever refused to sell or rent their home. For over 40 years, the mystery surrounding the abandoned house, gardens, and swimming pool fascinated the residents of Medford. Children, of course, believed it was haunted.

After their deaths, the property was finally sold and the contents auctioned off. Crates from their travels abroad were found unopened in the basement.

In 1999, Phil and Arlene Sadlier bought and remodeled the house. Once again, the Carpenter Hill Mansion came alive with dinner parties.

Source: Pollock, Buffy. The Mail Tribune Presents Our Valley’s “Would You Believe?” April 23, 2006; Telephone interview with Mr. Phil Sadlier. As It Was is a co-production of Jefferson Public Radio and the Southern Oregon Historical Society. As It Was stories are broadcast weekdays on Jefferson Public Radio and are available online at asitwas.org.

Parties were commonplace in the Rogue Valley when many prosperous people from the East Coast invested in the booming pear industry shortly after the turn of the century. In 1918, Leonard Carpenter (no relation to George and Rhe Carpenter) hosted a masquerade party at his house in Medford. Mrs. Dan Clark was among those attending. Dressed as a mummy, she was wrapped to a board and unable to fit into the family Model T. Thoughtfully placed across the back seat by her husband, she arrived at the party having been driven through the streets of Medford with her head and feet sticking out either side of the car. Photo courtesy of Southern Oregon Historical Society, image No. 13540