Historic Talent Building burned down for restoration – Medford News, Weather, Sports, Breaking News


Malmgren’s garage was built in the 1920s. Mail Tribune archive photo

The burnt-out shell of the 1925 Malmgren building in downtown Talent, once a pottery center for the Rogue Valley, is in the process of restoration and inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places. On Saturday 23 October, Clayfolk will organize a pottery sale in the building, which fell victim to the Almeda fire.

Building owner Bonnie Morgan said she hopes the reconstruction will encourage other downtown businesses to return. She and her late husband, Melvin, operated Southern Oregon Pottery Supply, at 111 Talent Ave., for 30 years until 2008. Since then, it has been home to artist studios and an antique store.

“With the talent losing so much, we have this thing that we could revive and make it an anchor for the historic part of downtown,” Morgan said. “We have four exterior walls and two interior walls. They are poured concrete walls.

Morgan is working with historic Ashland curator George Kramer to secure the historic list and be eligible for a federal rehabilitation tax credit. Kramer said the process, with a building on fire, is different because normally you would put one on the register and then do the job.

Instead, the pair envision a three-step process, the first of which was completed with the National Park Service, which administers the registration program. The service needed to determine if the shell has enough historical characteristics for it to be listed.

“They were in agreement. It took a bit of negotiation and conviction,” Kramer said. The service was concerned about the structural integrity of the walls, but a technical study showed they were in good condition despite the fire. “We kind of have a handshake deal with the Park Service,” Kramer said.

“They weighed it. It was tough for them, ”Morgan said. “There was so little left of the building. There was no roof, just a shell, ”Morgan said.

Talent put the building on its list of landmarks in 2011. Dr Theodore Malmgren had the building constructed in 1925 for use as a car garage. It is set back from the sidewalk since the space at the front once had gas pumps. In 2011, Talent Urban Renewal Agency funded the recreation of the building’s wooden folding doors, replacing the existing roll-up doors in the large main entrance.

For inclusion in the National Register, an exact recreation is not required as long as historical features are retained, Kramer said. The character-defining elements that have survived include the stepped parapet, the 8-by-12-foot front opening and large windows on several walls.

The second phase of the project, the creation of architectural plans, is now underway. The third phase will be the formal request for registration once the work is completed.

Morgan said she expects the cost of the reconstruction to exceed the insurance reimbursement amount. Morgan asked Western Environmental to clean up the site rather than wait for FEMA to do it because they didn’t like watching the destruction in downtown Talent. Insurance covered this cost.

“You have to get it down to the code, but you want to capture that historic feel. It’s always a tradeoff as to how you capture that, ”Morgan said. “It’s so complicated. Thought I would rebuild this last spring. This is how naive I was about the process.

Kramer has about half a dozen photos of the building from various sources. One of the best, which shows it in 1951 as a grocery store, came from the Oregon Department of Transportation.

Kramer worked on projects in downtown Portland and The Dalles that restored buildings in disrepair for National Registry listings. He was also involved in efforts at Medford to have Cargill Court, damaged by fire, on the register. The project never took place and the building was razed to become a parking lot.

Morgan also lost the nearby 1906 Hanscom Hall, which was on the register, in the Almeda fire. Together with Kramer, Morgan restored the building and then listed it in 1996. This was Talent’s first entry into the National Register. Morgan plans to rebuild the structure, but not according to criteria that could again qualify it for the National Registry.

Hanscom Hall escaped destruction in a fire in 1911 which burned down much of Talent. As one of the few buildings standing, it served as the center for the city and as a post office, Kramer said. It has had a variety of commercial uses over the years, including time as Talent Café.

The Clayfolk Sale will feature 15 artists from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Morgan will be selling his own pottery at the auction. The fire changed the color of the walls of the building and pitted the paint. This inspired her to make new treatments on her pottery.

The pottery group usually holds an annual sale before the holidays. Last year it featured pop-up sales due to the pandemic, avoiding a larger venue, and could do the same this year. Information is available at www.clayfolk.org.

Contact Ashland’s freelance writer Tony Boom at [email protected]

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