Soon after its founding in 1883, the Medford community needed a school for its children. The first school was a one-room building on South Central in Medford, a subscription school that cost $5 to attend. William A. Williamson was the first teacher.

During the summer of 1884, the city bought land from C.C. Beekman and built a second public school, a wood-frame, two-story building at Eighth and Oakdale streets, the site of today’s courthouse. Walter Gore served as the first principal in 1885 and May Crain, Belle Stronk and Sophia Wilson taught the primary classes.

The school grew and soon offered a full eight grades and a three-year high school that taught three courses. Additionally, three more teachers were hired to teach the upper grades.

Gore served until the late 1880s when William Crawford took over as principal. By 1891 Medford needed a larger school, so the building was sold and moved to West 10th Street where it survives to this day. It has been a private residence, office building and is now the rectory for Sacred Heart Church.

— As It Was is a co-production of Jefferson Public Radio and the Southern Oregon Historical Society. As It Was stories are broadcast weekdays on Jefferson Public Radio and are available online at asitwas.org.