Fresh facade has old look

TALENT — A downtown sculptors' studio will look more like the 1925 auto garage it started life as with the installation of folding wooden doors with iron bands crafted by a blacksmith.

The Malmgren Building at 111 Talent Ave. has received a $7,427 Talent Urban Renewal Agency facade improvement grant that includes the door work and other repairs.

"We are trying to assist property owners with making facade improvements that are appropriate for our traditional downtown core," said Marla Cates, agency executive director.

Phoenix physician Dr. Theodore J. Malmgren had the concrete building constructed in 1925 to house an automobile service facility, according to a survey of historical and cultural resources done for the City of Talent in 1995 by historian George Kramer.

Kramer cites a story that says Malmgren traveled extensively by car in the Talent and Phoenix areas to visit patients and built the structure to encourage a skilled mechanic to locate there to keep vehicles running.

The building was a car repair facility at least into the 1930s. The 8 feet high, 12 feet wide front entrance with its bifold doors allowed cars to be moved inside easily for work.

A variety of businesses occupied the space from the 1940s until Kramer compiled his report. Building owner Bonnie Morgan operated Southern Oregon Pottery and Supply for nearly 30 years in the location until 2008. Sculptor Jack Langford and three other artists then occupied the building.

Langford likes the large entrance, which currently features a roll-up door, because he can leave it open during the days and evenings so the public can come in to watch art creation.

Jason Couch of Phoenix is using his skills both as a blacksmith and a woodworker to create the new doors and attachment hardware. The doors will incorporate metal banding as shown in an old photograph.

"The historical guy (Kramer) and the owner and I designed ... something that we thought would look appropriate," Couch said. "They are like the old shop doors with shiplapped Doug fir mounted in iron."

Couch hopes the doors will be installed by the May 13 city art walk when the studio is opened and Langford usually does an evening bronze pour.

Water damage to the north side of the building has been fixed and a drainage system installed to prevent moisture from entering in the future. Window frames have been tightened and painted. The building's front will be repainted, but the other sides will be left in concrete as they have been historically, said Cates. Knots and features in the form boards from the concrete pour can still be seen on the south side, she added.

Malmgren Garage was part of a second phase of commercial construction in downtown Talent during the 1920s as auto travel increased. Talent Avenue was then the Pacific Highway before Highway 99 opened in 1938. The building remains essentially unaltered from its original construction, Kramer wrote in his 1995 survey.

Agency board of directors approved the grant award to Morgan, who is paying $2,427 of work expenses.

Tony Boom is a freelance writer living in Ashland. Reach him at

Share This Story