The first floor was originally occupied by an auto dealership. And in 1926, the second floor became the home of the early broadcast station KMED. In fact, the Sparta is the oldest surviving structure associated with the launch of commercial broadcasting in southern Oregon.
The upper floor was converted to residences in the 1950s, and then damaged by fire in the 1970s. It then sat empty for over two decades when, in 2012, the Sparta Building underwent a careful rehabilitation to return it to its historic design.
Upgrades for ADA access, seismic, and energy efficiency were conducted. The storefront windows were restored to their original full-height design. A missing cornice was replaced and the prominent corner entryway was rebuilt to re-expose and restore full height Ionic columns which had been hidden for over 50 years. The upper story was converted to office space, and historically-appropriate signage was added.
The Sparta Building now stands like a gleaming beacon of preservation in Medford’s historic downtown – a district that has a ways to go to reclaim its historic character and economic energy. Having the vision and fortitude to invest in preservation in a small town still reeling from the recession takes a special person. City leaders hope that the Sparta Building’s transformation will encourage more revitalization of the historic downtown district.
For pioneering investment in Medford’s Main Street revitalization; for setting an example when many in the community thought it was too far gone; and for local championing local craftsmanship; we presented the DeMuro Award to The Sparta Building.
On November 13, 2015 Restore Oregon presented the DeMuro Awards to seven extraordinary historic rehabilitation projects. The award is named in honor of Art DeMuro whose redevelopment of historic properties such as the White Stag Block set the standard for quality, creativity, persistence, and business acumen. This is the fifth in our series of posts about these projects.