Courtesy Photo Holmes House
The Harry and Eleanor Holmes House on Modoc Avenue in east Medford has been added to the National Register of Historic Places, becoming the city’s 45th property to receive the honor, according to a press release from the Department of Parks and Oregon recreation.
Southern Oregon Friends of Hospice, the current owners of the property, submitted the documents to apply for the honor in December 2020 and received the list on July 19.
“Our entire Board of Directors and staff are honored to receive this award on behalf of the community,” said Julie Raefield, Director of Development for Southern Oregon Friends of Hospice.
The 5,500 square foot home was built in 1939 on 2 acres of land. It has five bedrooms and six and a half bathrooms. The significance of the Californian Georgian-style house stems from the fact that it was designed by Paul Revere Williams for Harry and Eleanor Holmes.
Williams was a notable 20th-century architect in Southern California and the first African-American member of the American Institute of Architects and the first African-American elected to the American Institute of Architects, according to his website.
He designed houses for, among others, Frank Sinatra, Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn.
Harry Holmes and his brother David Holmes were the owners of Bear Creek Orchards and the founders of Harry & David. They developed the First Gift Tower and Fruit-of-the-Month Club, which laid the foundation for the premium food and gift model that the company is famous for.
The house went through a handful of owners before it became a hospice facility in 2016.
Southern Oregon Friends of Hospice completed an eight-room, 5,723-square-foot addition to the home in 2018, but the listing went to the original mansion, not the addition.
“We are committed to the architectural style and design of any remodeling, and this designation will continue to support that goal,” said Raefield. “This addition was very much in keeping with the original architectural design of the building. “
Maryann Gum, one of the donors who funded the 2018 expansion, has a mutual contact who knows William’s granddaughter, Karen Hudson.
Through Gum’s contact, the Hospice Group and Hudson were put in touch with each other, and Hudson hosted a mini-workshop with the Southern Oregon Friends of Hospice to teach them about the life and legacy of Williams, said Raefield.
The hospice group gave Hudson all of the original documentation for the house, which is now part of the Williams Archives, co-owned by the University of Southern California and the Getty Museum.
Raefield said friends at the Southern Oregon Hospice wanted to honor the building’s legacy and history.
“We view the house and those who created it as important contributors to our ability to honor and respect those we care for,” said Raefield.
The distinction of being on the National Register of Historic Places is primarily honorary, although it comes with benefits such as grant opportunities and tax incentives. Raefield said the distinction will only affect future changes to the original mansion and not the way the hospice operates.
If COVID-19 protocols allow, Southern Oregon Friends of Hospice will host an event for the community to celebrate the recognition, as well as the people who made the building important.
Reach Mail Tribune, News Intern, William Seekamp at [email protected]