A Virtual Walk Through Jacksonville History

Stop 40: TouVelle House

Let’s head one block north to 455 North Oregon Street to one of the best examples of Craftsman era homes in the Rogue Valley—the Judge Frank TouVelle House.

Judge Frank TouVelle House, 2016. Photo courtesy of Carolyn Kingsnorth.

Frank LeBlond TouVelle came to the Valley as part of the “Orchard Boom.” He was one of the “Easterners” who arrived by train in 1905 when the boom was in full swing and buyers were competing for land and orchards. He invested heavily in agricultural land and reaped a small fortune before boom turned to bust.

Judge Frank L. TouVelle
Photo Source: SOHS #9562

TouVelle became an active Jackson County Democrat, Methodist, and Elk, well liked throughout the community. When he ran for Judge of Jackson County in 1912 (today’s equivalent of County Commissioner), he was even supported by Republican stalwarts. His campaign was successful, and during his six-year tenure, we can thank TouVelle for helping to start the county’s first public health department.

Highway 99 Under Construction.

He also promoted the improvement of County roads. His “Get Out of the Mud” campaign resulted in Jackson County voters approving a half million-dollar bond issue to improve and grade what is now Highway 99. By 1921, the Jackson County portion of the Pacific Highway offered a paved surface from the county line over the Siskiyous to California and a graded surface to Highway 101 on the coast. Later, as State Highway Commissioner, he was directly responsible for the construction of Highway 99 that followed the earlier routes of Indian trail, Toll Road, and Pacific Highway over the Siskiyous.

But something was missing from TouVelle’s life, and in 1916 he married Elizabeth Blosser, a native of Chillicothe, Ohio. As a wedding present, TouVelle purchased this North Oregon Street property and had the present house constructed based on Elizabeth’s designs.

Judge Frank L. TouVelle House, 2009.
Photo courtesy of Carolyn Kingsnorth.

This 2 ½ story essentially rectangular structure reflects the Craftsman style so popular at the time with its covered front porch, tapered columns that support the roof, and exposed rafter tails under the eaves. In a special January 1, 1929 edition of the Medford Mail Tribune, the Stickley influenced TouVelle house was one of several homes featured in a special section entitled “The Rogue River Valley has Many Beautiful Ranch Homes.”

 

Stickley influenced TouVelle house was one of several homes featured in a special section entitled “The Rogue River Valley has Many Beautiful Ranch Homes.”

William Hoffman Victorian Gothic Cottage.
Photo Source: SOHS #10541.

However, the house is also unique in that TouVelle incorporated a portion of an existing 1866 house into his new home. An earlier 1 ½ story Victorian Gothic cottage became the library and the dining room. It had been home to William Hoffman, one of Jacksonville’s early pioneers.

Born in Maryland in 1801, William Hoffman must have been one of Jacksonville’s oldest pioneers when he and his family arrived in the Rogue Valley in 1853. The Hoffman family initially settled near Phoenix, but when Hoffman was elected County Auditor and Justice of the Peace two years later, he moved his family to Jacksonville. Their initial “town house” was a small, hastily built cabin on North Oregon Street where the TouVelle House now stands.

William Hoffman. Photo Source: SOHS #1725

When Oregon achieved statehood in 1859, Hoffman became the first elected Clerk of Jackson County and served for six years. In that year he was also appointed a U.S. Commissioner. A year later, Hoffman became the first president (Mayor) of the Jacksonville Board of Trustees and served as trustee until 1863. Hoffman was also a land agent and an insurance agent.  

In 1866, the Oregon Sentinel noted that “William Hoffman has had his old residence torn down, and is building a new residence.” A year later and for several consecutive years, Hoffman took out fire insurance on his “one and one half story frame cottage occupied as a dwelling house…on the west side of Oregon Street, … along with the frame barn situated one hundred forty feet from the dwelling.” It’s the rear portion of Hoffman’s 1866 home that projects slightly from the rear of the present TouVelle house. And the barn still stands.

After Elizabeth’s death in 1931, TouVelle turned the house into a residence for needy boys, giving them housing, schooling, and guidance. Today it serves the community as a B&B.

Some of TouVelle’s orchard properties remain in the form of TouVelle State Park. And three of TouVelle’s heirloom Spitzenberg apple trees, thought to be Thomas Jefferson’s favorite, still bear fruit every year on the 1.3 acres of his original 6-acre North Oregon plat.

 


Sources Cited:

Evans, Gail E.H.  State of Oregon Inventory of Historic Properties, “TouVelle House,” February 1980.

“Hoffman Family Come West in 1853,” The Table Rock Sentinel, June 1981, pp. 3-9.

“Judge F.L. Touvelle,” The Table Rock Sentinel, March 1983, p. 23.

Kingsnorth, Carolyn. “Judge Frank LeBlond Touvelle: Orchardist, Politician, Philathropist,” Pioneer Profiles, The Jacksonville Review, March 2016.

Kingsnorth, Carolyn. “William Hoffman: Merchant and Public Servant,” Pioneer Profiles, The Jacksonville Review, February 2016.

Putnam, George. “Pioneer Highway Builder of Southern Oregon Passes,” Sept. 9, 1955. 

“The Rogue River Valley Has Many Beautiful Ranch Homes,” Medford Mail Tribune¸ January 1, 1929.

 


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