Medford Elks Lodge on list of Oregon’s most endangered buildings

Medford, Ore. — A regional conservation group has just released its 2018 list of Oregon’s most endangered buildings.

Two in southern Oregon are on that list – the Butte Creek Mill in Eagle Point and the old Elks Lodge in downtown Medford.

The Medford Elks Lodge was ordered closed in 2014 by the Benevolent and Protective Order of the Elks.

While that may have left the building in danger of being torn down, a local selling agent is hopeful it will stand strong.

“The worst part would be that this building was torn down, and it’s history lost,” Pete Belcastro said.

Constructed in 1915, the Elks Lodge in Medford is one of the most historic buildings the city has to offer.

“This is the coolest building in Medford… Seriously!” Belcastro said.

Thousands of people have stepped foot in the building throughout the last century.

Selling agent Pete Belcastro says it was the place to be.

“With City Hall here, the First Baptist Church was here, the hotel, the train depot. This was really — for almost seven decades — the center of Medford,” Belcastro said.

Now, it’s on the National Register of Historic Places.

“A group called Restore Oregon recognized its historic potential and placed it in the top ten endangered historic buildings in Oregon” Belcastro said.

Belcastro thinks that’s what created a buzz and interest in the building leading to its purchase last summer by a Portland group.

He says the developers have already started making changes to the interior.

“That takes a lot of money. It takes somebody with great vision,” Belcastro said.

But it’s not like the entire building will need a makeover.

Belcastro says there’s a reason it’s lived past a century.

“While the interior of the building needs to be revamped and redone with new heating and air condition, the exterior of the building – the bones that hold it together – are in what engineers have told me in excellent condition for a 100-year-old building,” Belcastro said.

Belcastro says he doesn’t know what the new purpose of the building will be.

However, he’s hopeful it will eventually gain its place once again in the center of Medford.

The list can be found here: http://www.oregonlive.com/travel/index.ssf/2017/11/oregons_12_most_endangered_pla.html

NBC5 News Multimedia Journalist Elizabeth Ruiz was raised in Northern Colorado. She graduated from Colorado State University with a degree in Journalism and Media Communication. She also minored in Spanish and studied in Spain. While at Colorado State, she was an anchor and reporter for CTV Channel 11.

Elizabeth loves Zumba dancing, singing and spending time with her family.

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