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JPR Feature
Jacksonville Courthouse   
Tuesday May 31, 2005
By Eric Peters

Welcome to As It Was: Tales from the State of Jefferson

With so much in the news today about judges and judicial proceedings, we rarely think about where those judges hand down their sometimes-controversial decisions-the courthouses themselves.

In Jackson County, Oregon, in the fall of 1855, the Honorable Matthew P. Deady (DEHD-ee) held sway over the Circuit Court, making routine travels from around the state. When he'd come to Jacksonville, his courtroom was inside a simple building next door to a saloon. His bench consisted of a dry goods box covered with a blue blanket. Someone once called Judge Deady's court " a most unpretentious temple of justice."

After a time, the courthouse moved into the town's first Masonic Lodge on Fifth Street. But still many citizens of Jackson County felt they could do better. In 1882, following what was called a "curious election in which the people themselves fought the courthouse question at the polls," voters decided it was time for a new courthouse and construction began soon thereafter.

Finished in 1883 and rising some three stories high, the old Jacksonville County Courthouse and its prominent cupola would come to be one of Jacksonville's most recognizable landmarks. Today, the old County Courthouse houses the Jacksonville Museum of Southern Oregon History.

Today's episode of As It Was was written by Eric Peters, the program engineer is Raymond Scully.  I'm Shirley Patton. As It was is a co-production of JPR and the Southern Oregon Historical Society.  To Share stories or learn more about the series visit asitwas - dot- org

Jacksonville Courthouse Complex Historic Structures Report, prepared by George Kramer, M.S., February 1995

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