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BIG DIGS

A small army of construction crews is erecting the largest personal residence in Jackson County and one of the biggest houses in the state on a remote hilltop south of Jacksonville.

At 43,718 square feet, the three-story mansion, with a kitchen as large as an average-size house, is twice as large as Jackson County's previous record holder — the Edward Kerwin family chateau near Ashland, which is a more modest 19,000 square feet.

The Jacksonville-area mansion is one of the biggest houses in the state, though whether it tops the list could not be immediately confirmed. The governor’s mansion in Salem, known as Mahonia Hall, is 11,217 square feet. Yamhill County’s largest house is a palatial Mediterranean-style villa that is just over 26,000 square feet.

The Jacksonville mansion is larger than the new police headquarters being built in downtown Medford at 42,000 square feet.

Still, Jackson County's largest residence is dwarfed in size by Microsoft billionaire Bill Gates’ lodge-style retreat in Medina, Wash., which occupies 66,000 square feet, according to Forbes magazine and other sources.

The rural Jacksonville mansion on 161 acres is so large you could fit 21 average-sized American houses inside it. An average-sized American house is about 2,100 square feet, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. County records put the house’s estimated value at $4 million.

Owned by Rudolph and Courtney Driscoll, who owns Driscoll Property Management in Medford, the mansion features only six bedrooms but 14 full and half-sized bathrooms, according to county records. Rudolph “Rudy” Driscoll died June 16 at the age of 47. The Driscolls also own property in the Bay Area.

Rudy Driscoll’s father bought land near La Honda south of San Francisco starting in 1968, according to a 1995 San Francisco Chronicle article. Rudy Driscoll Sr., a member of the Weyerhaeuser family, wanted the almost 4,000-acre La Honda property near the Pacific Ocean for a cattle ranch, according to the Chronicle. In 2002, the Peninsula Open Space Trust purchased the land for $21 million.

Jackson County Assessor Josh Gibson said the Driscoll property in Jacksonville formerly had a house of almost 5,000 square feet that was torn down to make way for the new building. According to county records, the old house was built in 2004.

The Driscolls purchased the property Dec. 13, 2013, for $1.375 million, records show. The Driscolls and their extended family in Jackson County own other local properties.

According to county records, only 31,939 square feet of the house will be finished. Another 10,939 square feet will remain unfinished. Even at 31,939 square feet, the mansion is more than 10,000 square feet bigger than the Kerwin property, which resembles a French chateau and overlooks the Belle Fiore winery with its 20,000-square-foot tasting room and production facility.

After the Kerwin chateau, the next biggest house in Jackson County, on Manzanita Heights Drive in Medford, is 17,601 square feet, followed by a house on Modoc Drive in White City of 13,869 square feet.

A residence and former church located just outside Ashland known as the Circle of Teran, which has become the Circle of Trust rehabilitation center, is 11,000 square feet.

The Driscoll mansion can be glimpsed from various vantage points around the Jacksonville area but is largely concealed behind trees. Most of the framing appears to be finished, but heavy equipment could be seen this week rumbling over the property to build retaining walls and other features.

According to plans filed with Jackson County, the kitchen alone is 1,920 square feet, almost as large as a standard three-bedroom, two-bath house. Off the kitchen is a 486-square-foot butler’s pantry — roughly the size of a standard double-car garage — with an adjacent 106-square-foot cooler.

The master bedroom is 926 square feet and features a 1,135-square-foot master dressing room with a 630-square-foot balcony. The master bedroom, master bathroom, closet and dressing room together total about 3,000 square feet.

Interior walls are all made of 2-by-6-inch studs. The drywall throughout the house is thicker than in a regular house.

In a mansion this size, there will be plenty of things to entertain family and friends, as well as the Driscolls' four children.

A play room will be 1,694 square feet. A pool room will be 1,225 square feet, and a card room will be 1,269 square feet.

Both the owner and the contractor declined to be interviewed.

Reach reporter Damian Mann at 541-776-4476 or dmann@mailtribune.com. Follow him on Twitter at @reporterdm.

Construction is underway on the largest house in Jackson County south of Jacksonville. Mail Tribune / Jamie Lusch