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Take a look inside Jacksonville's historic homes

The Jacksonville Booster Club's Home and Garden Tour this weekend offers a rare chance for the public to get a peek inside the town's much-admired historic residences.

"People walk the streets of Jacksonville and are always wondering what homes look like on the inside. It's always neat when homeowners are willing to open up their homes," says Dirk Siedlecki, a member of the booster club.

The tour is from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, May 14-15. Tickets are available the days of the tour for $20 at the historic B.F. Dowell House, 470 N. Fifth St., and outside the U.S. Post Office, 175 N. Oregon St. Each ticket includes a map and transportation along the tour route via trolley.

"A person can start the tour at any location. There's so much to see, they can take two days to do it," Siedlecki says.

Also included in the ticket price are three tastings of wine at Daisy Creek Vineyard, 675 Shafer Lane, where participants can talk with owners Russ and Margaret Lyon about wine-making and how they transformed part of their hay meadow into a vineyard. Stops at gardens and historic churches round out the tour.

Docents are staged at the homes and gardens to tell visitors about the history of each location.

Built in 1861, the stately B.F. Dowell House is both a ticket venue and stop on the tour. It was the first private residence in Jacksonville to be constructed of brick and in the Italian villa style. The home boasts four ornate fireplaces set with onyx and marble.

Members of the Hartman family have lived in the home since 1910. Early builders in Southern Oregon, the Hartmans constructed many of the covered bridges in the area.

The charming Minerva Armstrong house, at 375 E. California St., also known as the G.W. Cool House, is built in the saltbox style. More commonly seen in New England, saltbox-style homes have a long, sloping roof on one side and resemble the wooden lidded boxes in which people once stored salt.

A private residence at 335 S. Oregon St. was once the Eagle Brewery and Saloon. In the summer, beer drinkers would often retreat to the brick-floored cellar of the saloon, which was much cooler than the saloon above. The cellar, historic records and artifacts are included in the tour of the home.

The C.W. Savage House, at 310 N. Fifth St., has had many uses since it was built in 1861. The home served as a doctor's office, pharmacy and hospital and was later deeded to the Sisters of Holy Names for use as a school and lodging. It was called the Catholic Academy School.

As a model of how new construction can fit into a historic community, the Sherbourne House, 455 Shafer Lane, is also a part of the tour. Built in 2004, the home features brick and a copper-colored metal cupola.

For gardening enthusiasts, two gardens are part of the tour.

The garden at the Herman Helms House, 320 S. Oregon St., was most likely used originally to grow vegetables to feed the Helms' family, which included nine children. Today, the garden has been extensively landscaped and terraced to showcase a variety of trees, shrubs and flowers. Ornamental fencing reminiscent of the Victorian era encloses the garden.

The Jacksonville Booster Club will show its ongoing efforts to restore the Peter Britt Gardens using plants the early photographer and horticulturist chose. The once-lush gardens were built on terraces that were dug and faced with stone by hand.

Tour participants can see the garden and also get a backstage tour at the Britt Music and Art Festival on First Street.

As an added bonus, historic churches in Jacksonville will open their doors to tour participants.

"When the Jacksonville Booster Club puts on the tour, we approach other historic property owners and ask if they will open their buildings," Siedlecki says.

The 1854 St. Andrew's Anglican Church, at 305 N. Fifth St., is the oldest wood-framed structure in Jacksonville and is thought to be the first church built in the Rogue Valley. Several denominations have used the church over the years, including Baptists and Presbyterians.

According to Jacksonville lore, the Rev. Fletcher Royal convinced miners gambling in a nearby saloon in the 1850s to donate a portion of their winnings for construction of the church. His wife and a friend also raised money by going from gold camp to gold camp in the area.

St. Joseph's Catholic Church, built in the 1850s, is on Fourth Street, along with a rectory that followed in the 1860s.

First Presbyterian Church of Jacksonville, 425 Middle St., was built in 1881 in a Victorian Gothic style. A newspaper raved at the time that the church was "a model of architectural beauty, the most ornate and handsome in Southern Oregon."

Staff reporter Vickie Aldous can be reached at 541-776-4486 or valdous@mailtribune.com. Follow her at www.twitter.com/VickieAldous.

The historic Minerva Armstrong House, 375 E. California St., Jacksonville, will be one of the stops on the Jacksonville Boosters' Home and Garden Tours. Mail Tribune / Jamie Lusch