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South Stage Cellars: A multifaceted treasure

The other night I wined, dined and danced inside a historic building that is beyond twice my age. I felt youthful by comparison.

Southern Oregon is layered with so much history, it’s easily taken for granted. Occasionally, it’s right under our dancing shoes.

Some friends and I enjoyed the cozy ambiance of South Stage Cellars, 125 S. Third St. in Jacksonville. South Stage Cellars lives inside a brick building dating back to around 1865.

Originally the home of Irish immigrant P.J. Ryan, it has enjoyed a robust history over the past 157 years, housing hotels, a restaurant, doctor’s office, butcher shop, ice cream parlor and saloon.

If only the ghosts from all those vocations could give us the scoop.

I discovered the rich history of the place at historicjacksonville.org. “In the 1960s it became the home of Robertson Collins, the individual credited with preventing Highway 238 from taking out 11 of Jacksonville’s historical homes and the leader of the organization that established the city’s National Historic Landmark status.”

For the past several years, the inviting old edifice has helped form friendships among strangers by offering a warm atmosphere and serving 28 varietals of wines. Don and Traute Moore and their son, Michael, of Quail Run Vineyards grow the grapes. The story of how they began their thriving wine grape business in 1989 is interesting and can be found on the South Stage Cellars’ website under “Our Story.”

They seem to have a knack for hiring friendly, service-oriented staff. Servers always have a smile to give and a desire to help a local or tourist discover just the right glass. Manager Connie Thomas definitely knows her organization. She keeps the place rolling along smoothly. Connie and her helpers make it appear effortless.

Wednesday evenings, they host a “Wine and Dine,” which includes two hours of live music. We enjoyed the sweet strains of Jeff “rhymes with pretzel” Kloetzel. About 6 p.m., they began serving dinner catered by C St. Bistro. For $15 we received a nice plate of sliced tri-tip steak with horseradish sauce, dressed green salad and roasted new potatoes. It was all delicious.

These events are popular, and reservations are required. C St. Bistro is now open seven days a week and offers live music three nights a week. Soon, the weather will warm to the idea of inviting the gang into their expansive, shady garden for music and rejuvenation.

In addition to all of the above, the work of different local artists adorns its storied walls every six weeks or so. And from now through June 19, it happens to be the fine work of my friend Lane Hall. Lane has brought in 21 new pieces — most are local subjects.

“The Storyteller, Phoenix, Oregon” is a stunning and dramatic black-and-white depiction of an old willow that succumbed in the Almeda fire. It’s displayed above one of their fireplaces and is worth viewing.

So, while South Stage Cellars shows signs of its venerable spirit, it is regularly packed with life. They openly support the local economy. People who visit are friendly — some are regulars. I always feel like I’m in a Cheers episode. Steve and Judy!

Speaking of history, the Farm Festival is returning to the historic Wood House on Highway 62 in Eagle Point Saturday and Sunday, May 21-22. Admission is $2 for adults with children 12 and younger free. They’re not giving away children. Oh, some parents may loan theirs out for a month or two, but I mean they get in free. I have to be careful how I word things.

There will be live country music on the porch — even the kind I like. You can scout around inside and see how the other half lived. If you look really hard, you may find me trying to help in the Eagle Point Museum booth. I plan to be there from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday signing books. Get them before they’re history. A portion of book sales will go to the EP Museum. See you there.

Peggy Dover is a freelance writer/author. Reach her at pcdover@hotmail.com or on Facebook.