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By Dan Shryock

It’s the jewel of downtown Jacksonville, the centerpiece of a charming historic district, the destination when it’s time to celebrate or simply get away.

This is the Jacksonville Inn: a superb dining destination, an excellent place to stay and a starting point for exploring Southern Oregon wine country and the nearby Applegate Valley.

Some quick historical background may help here. The inn was built in the 1800s and served a variety of roles over the decades. “It had many configurations over the years,” says Linda Evans, who with husband, Jerry, has owned the inn for nearly 38 years.

“Believe it or not, it was a livery stable at one time. There was a top level, a fourth floor, and it was a bordello,” she says with a laugh.

The Evans came upon the property in the 1970s. Jerry was an executive with Harry & David food in Medford and Linda was a school teacher and administrator. Rather than face Jerry’s pending business transfer to Southern California, the Evans decided not to uproot their family and stay in the area.

“We had been looking around at something we could own and develop ourselves,” she recalls. “I was sitting in the faculty room at school, and I said, ‘gosh, we’ve got to find something else here, and somebody said the Jacksonville Inn is for sale.

“So we bought it and reconfigured it.”

They took a little house a block away from the California Street inn and restaurant and remodeled it into a honeymoon cottage. “And, honestly, it was the most popular place when people came to stay.”

They also built three more adjacent cottages over time and created a destination wedding venue.

They carefully maintain room designs at the inn that respect the historical nature of the building.

“It’s rather traditional. It’s typical of what you would see in the early 1900s,” Linda says.

“We have a pretty broad range of accommodations between the historic rooms upstairs and the historic cottage and more modern cottages,” Jerry adds. “Those cottages have worked out really, really well for us.”

The dinner house serves quality meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Sunday brunch is offered from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Across the hall from the restaurant is an extensive wine shop that also serves as the hotel reception counter.

“We’ve got about 2,000 different labels. That includes 130 local wines,” says Jerry Evans. “The original thought was that when people checked into the hotel we could offer them a glass of wine. And it’s worked out really well.”

The inn rarely experiences a slow season, Jerry says. It’s a popular destination for wine country visitors, Britt music festival attendees and other guests.

“We’re busy when spring vacation hits in March. That’s when things really start picking up. It goes right through the first week of October,” he says. “Once school starts, seniors tend to get out and start travelling. August and December are our biggest months.”

December is also a busy month at the restaurant. “We do a lot of corporate events,” he says. “We also do a lot of off-premise catering, big events up to several hundred people. We cater to wineries a lot. Catering is an important part of our business.”

Dan Shryock is an Oregon-based journalist and travel writer. When he's not visiting Southern Oregon or sampling local wines, he can be found cycling throughout the state.