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Two Guys Buy “The Bennett Estate”

By Jacksonville Review

Frank DeLuca and Ken Gregg

Frank DeLuca and Ken Gregg


Editor’s Note: In October, the Eugene Bennett estate at 355 S. Oregon Street, Jacksonville, Oregon was purchased by Frank DeLuca and Ken Gregg. For 50 years, the property had been known as the Bennett Estate and was home to working artist Eugene Bennett, where the renowned artist lived and painted. The home & studio sit on 2.24 acres and is listed on the historic property registry. Built in 1856, the property functioned as the Eagle Brewery Saloon until the early 1900’s.

 The following interview by Review Publisher Whitman Parker is intended to let the community know what Frank & Ken plan for this historic property.

JR: Tell us how you found Jacksonville and the Bennett property:

Frank: My partner Ken and I made our first visit to Jacksonville in 2010 to visit a friend who had recently relocated from the Bay Area and purchased a home here.  By the second day, we felt an overwhelming desire to be here on a more regular basis. Three months later, we returned for another visit AND purchased a townhome in Jackson Creek, by Nunan Square. We’ve been part-time residents ever since.

Ken: On that first visit to Jacksonville, we came upon the Bennett property on one of our morning walks and felt very drawn to it.  During a lengthy stay this August, we noticed the property was for sale and asked our real estate agent to show it to us, assuming it would be beyond our means to purchase.

Eugene Bennett Home

Eugene Bennett Home



Frank: There was something very special about it that attracted both of us so we just continued moving forward on investigating the history, zoning laws and how the community felt about this property. Everything we learned somehow kept confirming that we needed to find a way to make it all work.

JR: What is the condition of the property and do you plan to live there?

Ken: Since the home has been vacant for a few years, our first step will be to take care of the deferred maintenance issues, such as a new roof, siding and other minor repairs. We plan on remodeling some of the interior to bring it up to date. We are working with the folks in the Planning Department, making sure we do it right! And yes, we plan to live in the house as our primary residence and to enjoy the acreage as it is.

Frank: We understand everyone is wondering what our plans are. Simply, they are to make Eugene Bennett’s house our home and revive its use as an art studio and gallery. We plan to take some time to get a deeper feeling about the property over the next few years, balancing our own needs with the specialness of the property and the community. We are relying on the “Jacksonville Effect” to guide us.

JR: Did you say, The Jacksonville Effect? Please explain.

Frank: Ken and I coined the term the “Jacksonville Effect” after our first visit in 2010 based on an observation that things seem to happen here with very little effort.  It’s amazing how we manage to run into just the right person at just the right time and how we are often recipients of the most wonderful spontaneous hospitality while just walking to the market to get olive oil or grab coffee at the Good Bean. It’s as though we don’t have to think and plan to get things done here.  Everything unfolds in a very organic way as if we are being guided.

JR: Tell us about your backgrounds:

Ken: I’ve been a photographic artist for most of my life and started photographing backpacking equipment for North Face when it was just a startup in the late 60′s. I did work for their catalogues for 10 years before moving on to more fine art project-type work. I then developed a market for providing high-end hotels with artwork for permanent decor. Last year, I had an exhibit at the Élan Guest Suites Gallery and currently have a permanent installation of miniature scenics of Italy at Gogi’s Restaurant. Once we make the move up here full-time, I plan on continuing my work as an artist in a home that was home to an artist for 50 years.

Frank: I’m an East-West psychologist who’s worked in personal and professional development since the mid- 1970′s. I’m phasing-out my private therapy practice but will keep training leaders in organizations to work with the Enneagram, a personality typing system that improves personal and professional relationships. In the meantime, I’ll be commuting to the San Francisco Bay Area to continue my work there.

Ken: We are both natives of Southern Californians. I’m from Santa Barbara and Frank is from Santa Monica. For the last 30 years, we’ve lived on the central coast of California, near Carmel. We have family here in Jacksonville, too. My brother Thom and his partner Linda moved here full-time a year ago and my sister just moved here, as well.

JR: Sounds like the Jacksonville Effect again?

Ken: Indeed!

JR: It looks as if you two are meant to be here!

Ken: It’s a leap for us, being native Californians for over 60 years, to consider putting down roots in Jacksonville.  However, this overwhelming draw to become more engaged in the community is now the next exciting period of our lives and it just seems right.

Frank: We always had the idea of living in a small town where we could walk everywhere and live a simpler life. We are used to living in an area where we occasionally see deer, fox, bobcats, and hawks and feel very lucky to be surrounded by even more nature here in Jacksonville.

Ken: We are so grateful to be the new stewards of this historic property that’s beloved in the community. One day, while viewing the property, we got the sense that Eugene also approved and was guiding us.

JR: Sounds like the Jacksonville Effect was at work!

Art Matters! Editor’s Note: We thank the Jacksonville Review for keeping us informed us significant developments in the art world in Jacksonville!

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