Southern Oregon Historical Society planning to convert headquarters into indoor events center

DOWNTOWN MEDFORD, Ore. — The Southern Oregon Historical Society is planning on remodeling its history center headquarters in downtown Medford.

It wants to convert the space into a new indoor event center.

Built back in 1948 as a stand-alone J.C. Penney’s department store the 26,000 square foot SOHS Building on North Central Avenue will soon undergo an internal remodel and conversion into a new indoor event center.

“I started getting a lot of inquiries from people this summer who wanted to rent it as it is, I’ve turned down some [people] and there’s a couple [events] that might happen in the fall,” said Southern Oregon Historical Society Executive Director, Ron Kramer, says the plan has been in the works for the last 6-8 weeks.

He says he and the historical society board unanimously voted on the conversion of the space.

“The Red Lion, the Inn at the Commons having closed its event facility there really wasn’t much downtown for events, so we thought ‘what the heck? It’s the perfect space, it’s big enough to do this,” said Kramer.

The renovated space will match the exterior architecture of the unique, historical building.

“We can make it look really special in streamline modern style, it will be a pretty elegant kind of setting for all kinds of events: weddings, meetings, assemblies, concerts – that sort of thing.”

The project will cost $1.2 million dollars to convert. The historical society is now working on gathering funding for construction.

“We are looking for a naming gift, it’ll be the blank Event Center at SOHS and other corporate and philanthropic contributions,” said Kramer.

If it all works out, Kramer says the event center could open as soon as next summer.

He hopes by then the COVID-19 pandemic won’t be as big of a concern and people can gather in the large indoor space.

“COVID is not a complete bar to doing these things, it’s simply a restriction you have to take into account.”

Kramer says income from events held at the new center would help fund the society, and potentially, a new museum.

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