The Conro Fiero House, better known today as Mon Desir Dining Inn, was built in 1910 for the scion of a wealthy Chicago family, one of the Rogue River Valley’s successful “pearboom” orchardists. In 1910 Fiero married Grace Andrews, New York actress who worked with producer-director David Belasco. The house, situated on the 140-acre Woodlawn Orchard, was used by the bride when she was not on the stage. In 1914, during one of her sojourns in Southern Oregon, the actress starred in a film entitled “Grace’s Visit to the Rogue RiverValley,” which was used at the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition in San Francisco to promote Jackson County. The design of the house, a bungalow heavily influenced by the English Art sand Crafts Style, is attributed to the noted Portland firm of Whitehouse and Fouilhoux. In the intervening years the house was enlarged slightly at the south end, but its well tower on the north end has remained intact, and the house is well preserved throughout. In 1943,the estate was subdivided and the house began separate use as a restaurant under four successive ownerships. However, orchards still provide the backdrop and setting for the property. The house is significant as one of the outstanding orchard mansions in the county.It possesses integrity of location, design, setting, materials, workmanship, feeling and association with notable historical figures in the local pear industry.A. Conro Fiero, son of A. W. Fiero, a wealthy Chicago businessman, came to the Rogue Valley at the turn of the century to become a millionaire. In 1910 Fiero built the headquarters for his landed estate of 140-acres for his bride, Grace Andrews. Their home became the center of the most lavish entertaining with an Eastern flair, new and thrilling to the SouthernOregon community. The guest list of the “Woodlawn Acres” frequently included some of the more famous names of that era, including that of U.S. Ambassador to Spain, Stan Griffis. Fiero was active in the Medford business community, social affairs, and the development of the Rogue Valley fruit industry. By 1917 the Fieros had lost everything of their fruit crops due to freezing temperatures. Grace Andrews was famous on the New York stage. She rose to stardom under the guidance of David Belasco. Belasco was labeled by the New York Times as “the greatest producer and stage director of his time.” Grace was a member of the Andrews Opera Company family of Minnesota. She made her broadway debut in “Beverly of Grastark” in 1908 on David Belasco’s stage. When the opera company was dissolved, the family moved to Rogue Valley, around 1903.The family pursued agricultural interests, but their greatest was in the cultural development of the valley, music and theater.Miss Andrews met Conro Fiero in 1909 on one of her visits from New York. After their marriage in 1910, she continued with her career, residing in the valley during the off season. It was during one of these visits in 1914 that she starred in a local film “Grace’s Visit to the Rogue River Valley.” This motion picture was used as a Jackson County promotional film att he 1915 San Francisco Panama-Pacific International Exposition. A copy of the film is now in the collections of the Southern Oregon Historical Society in Jacksonville, Oregon.The 140 acres remained one property under three different owners until George T. and Lillian E. Ehrheart bought the property in 1943. They bought the six acres with the Fiero House and made the house into a Southern Chicken Dinner Restaurant. Following the Ehrhearts’ failure after six months, J. M. Alexander and Julia Jemma Tummers bought the place. Julia made the place into a dining inn and named it “Mon Desir.” Julia Tummers 1 American and European cuisine, made Mon Desir one of the noted dining places between Portland and San Francisco.
*Note My scrapbook of the Mon Desir. At one time we put offers in to buy the Mon Desir, this is my scrapbook from that time. I wanted to rename the Mon Desir to Woodlawn because that is what Mr. Fiero called it.
The property has since burned down and everytime I drive by it makes me want to cry!
A society wedding is always big news. And for Medford, Oregon in June 1910, the wedding of Grace Andrews and Conro Fiero [Fee-AIR-oh] was on the newspaper’s front page. Under the headline, “The First of Medford’s June Brides,” was a picture of the petite and attractive brunette and a story of her intimate wedding. Held at the Andrews home, the ceremony was performed at noon in a bower of white and pink roses. Grace wore an elaborate gown of white chiffon over white satin. Her tulle veil fell to the hemline and she carried a shower bouquet of white roses. Her two attendants wore white lingerie gowns over pink silk and carried white and pink roses.After the ceremony, breakfast was served in the Andrew’s dining room. Then the couple drove off to Ashland to catch the train that would take them on a honeymoon trip to San Francisco and Del Monte, California.When they returned, the happy couple promised a big party for all their friends at the new home Conro had built for his bride at Woodlawn, his Central Point Orchard. Many people know the home today as the Mon Desir Restaurant.Today’s episode of As It Was was written by Alice Mullaly, the program producer is Raymond Scully. I’m Shirley Patton. As It Was is a co-production of JPR and the Southern Oregon Historical Society. To share stories or learn more about the series visit asitwas – dot- org
“The First of Medford’s June Brides,” Medford Mail Tribune, June 1, 1910.