If you take I-5 exits 27 or 30, you will find yourself in the seat of Jackson County, the largest town in the Rogue Valley and the fourth largest city in the state. This city, home to nearly 81,000 residents and filled with plenty of growing industries, is…you guessed it—Medford! Incorporated in 1885, and increasing in population every year, Medford is a hub of Southern Oregon—constantly developing and changing, as the following bits of news will remind you.
In June of 2019, downtown visitors may have noticed a visible change in Vogel Plaza. After the city’s first ever Innovation Competition, a mural representing Medford’s history was chosen to spruce up downtown Medford, or to “give it zest,” as the city’s website proclaims. Intended to celebrate Medford (past, present, and future), the mural now stands out among the historic downtown buildings.
On the topic of historic buildings, Medfordians (that’s what we call ourselves, right?), have all heard about the renovation of the Holly Theatre. When the Holly Theatre first opened in 1930, it was the largest electrification project in Southern Oregon or Northern California. With electric lights and 500 feet of neon, it was a “welcomed step away from the reality of depression-era Medford.” As the years wore on, the changes in the movie-theater industry weren’t kind to the Holly, and for a while, it was even scheduled for demolition. However, today the Holly is being restored in the hope that once its doors are open (hopefully in late 2020), the entire corner of the neighborhood will be revitalized. With 1,003 seats, the Holly Theatre will be a prime indoor venue, and will even use spare meeting spaces to the benefit of the community.
In addition, downtown Medford is constantly welcoming new businesses. A recent example is BioSkin, an orthopedic equipment company which opened its first retail store in May of 2019. According to Kristina Johnsen, the community relations coordinator for Medford, the council’s goal for the city is for “the downtown stretch to be vibrant; full of people and opportunities to expand.” Johnsen added that the development of Medford is always a focal point—as are the “overall aesthetics” of the city. “We want downtown to be friendly.”
The building of the Commons’ Pear Blossom Park is an example of a downtown neighborhood’s revitalization. (Fun Fact: if you were to look down on the Pear Blossom Park from the top of the nearest buildings, you would notice that even the landscaping of the park resembles giant pears.) With the creation of the park (where the Rogue Valley Growers and Crafters’ Market gathers on Saturdays), and the band shell which draws in crowds for concerts, this stretch of downtown Medford is always busy. Common Block Brewing Company, located in the historic Monarch building across the street (which once served as a car dealership, a feed-store, and a car showroom), certainly knows how to pack in the crowds and has become a community meeting place for conferences and tastings.
With the development of the Northgate shopping center (Trader Joes, Dick’s Sporting Goods, etc.), and the Southside Center (Cracker Barrel, Five Guys, etc.), the retail industry continues to grow, making Medford a destination for business and tourism. The medical industry in Medford also makes the city an important location, not just for the Rogue Valley, but for all of Southern Oregon and Northern California. The city has specialty doctors, hospitals, and also retirement homes. As far as travel goes, the Rogue Valley International-Medford Airport even added more connecting flights to cities like Phoenix and Las Vegas; moreover, in 2018 it surpassed one million passengers. All this indicates that Medford will continue to grow as a launching point for a Southern Oregon vacation—or a permanent home.
Thanks to the newest addition to our SOREDI team, our SOU alum, Abigail Skelton, we will continue to feature some of the popular attractions located in our Southern Oregon communities. We consider each one of our towns and cities to be “jewels in the crown” that makes up Southern Oregon. If you have a story idea sparked by an inspiring local attraction, please e-mail our Communications Manager, Codi Spodnik and maybe Abigail will be giving you a call to follow up. If you are a SOREDI Member and you have some great news, please e-mail it to Codi so we can share it in our newsletter.
City of Medford (2019). Artist Selected for Vogel Plaza Mural Project. Website: https://www.ci.medford.or.us/news.asp?newsid=7513
Jefferson Live! (2019). Holly Theatre. Website: https://www.hollytheatre.org/