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The spirit of Christmas past lives on.

You'll find it in southern Oregon's Jacksonville

IT'S BILLED AS A Victorian Christmas in Jacksonville, and Victoriana indeed abounds, from green boughs festooning storefronts to the musky aroma of roasting chestnuts wafting down California Street. The theme is a fitting one: architecturally, Jacksonville seems frozen in about 1884, the year the gold mining boomtown in southern Oregon was bypassed by the railroad.

But the real charm of a visit to this well-preserved burg lies in the small-town friendliness, earnest attention to history, and simple, down-to-earth elegance that define much of what you'll encounter in a day's browse through town. Though it's fun to spend a weekend in Jacksonville anytime, special December events for adults and children make a visit this time of year even more appealing.

Only 5 miles west of Medford, Jacksonville is easily accessible from Interstate 5.

PIPED MUSIC AND SIDEWALK CAROLS

Scottish bagpipes herald Santa's arrival by horse-drawn sleigh and the official beginning of the Christmas season at a community tree-lighting ceremony on the evening of December 4. Thereafter, through December 23, browsers may encounter an a cappella chorus singing carols on the sidewalk, a top-hatted town crier proclaiming news and views, or a mule-drawn wagon offering free tours of the town. The 1870s-vintage Beekman House, just east of the town's center, is inhabited by history buffs in period dress who are happy to give visitors a taste of a turn-of-the-century Christmas. Most events are free and take place from about 11 to 4 Saturdays and Sundays.

Part of what sets Jacksonville's holiday festival apart is its attention to children. Santa--memorable, approachable, with a real beard and a kindly manner--is on hand weekends. Little revelers enjoy the wagon ride around town. And there's an ongoing ornament-making workshop for kids at the Children's Museum, 205 N. Fifth Street, from 10 to 4 Tuesdays through Sundays. For information on other museum-sponsored events for children, call (503) 773-6536.

Families might want to be in town on December 19, when national touring artist John Doan gives two or three performances of a Victorian Christmas concert using 15 period instruments. For details, call the chamber of commerce (number below).

CUCKOO CLOCKS AND WEARABLE ART

Shops along California Street offer a tempting variety of wares to gift-seekers. Look & Listen, specializing in music boxes, cuckoo clocks, and unusual knickknacks, has a back room stuffed with 20,000 ornaments and other Christmas decor. The selection at Scheffel's Toys includes imported wooden play-things and model trains.

Among galleries, Dodero Design offers wearable art; Village Art and Wine Gallery represents local artists, many inspired by Native American traditions; Ge B'zz has an eclectic selection of playful finds from around the country; and Exclusive Accents sells fine contemporary crafts.

DINING AND LODGING

For dining, locally popular Jacksonville Inn takes a traditional approach to meals. The fare at McCully House Inn is more original and refined. Bella Union, with its pizza and nachos and an informal atmosphere, is a good choice for families.

Guests will find a Christmas tree in every room at Old Stage Inn, the most luxurious of the town's several B & Bs. Families will probably prefer The Stage Lodge, a tasteful motel 1/2 mile from the center of town.

Call the chamber of commerce at 899-8118 for more information on lodging and on other holiday events, such as a chocolate fair December 5 and 6 and the Winter Art and Wine Festival on December 12 and 13.
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Title Annotation:Jacksonville, Oregon
Author:Henderson, Bonnie
Publication:Sunset
Date:Dec 1, 1992
Words:572
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