Talent Freethinkers Build Universal Mental Liberty Lecture Hall

Jun 25, 2014

  In the 1880s Jackson County had many talented speakers who promoted freedom of religion, critical thinking and liberal ideas. 

On Oct. 4, 1884, the Universal Mental Library Hall opened in Talent, Ore. Its first speaker, “Lish” Applegate of Ashland, gave a talk on “Mental Liberty” that was described as “scholarly, replete with historical citations and intensely logical throughout.”  Music was provided by the Talent Glee Club, also known as the Breese family. Supporters of the Mental Liberty Hall included farmer and diarist Welborn Beeson and Willis John Dean, an atheist, spiritualist and teacher at Wagner Creek School.  It was built by Talent freethinkers as a place for their lectures, debates and other gatherings.  Although it was known by some as “Infidel Hall,” any group could hold an event there, provided the audience was allowed to ask questions. Bible classes were held there in 1885. The Mental Liberty Hall was located at the corner of Wagner Creek and Anderson Creek roads, but was moved and converted to a barn in 1912. 


Sources: "Diary of W. J. Dean 1912-1919." Southern Oregon History, Revised. Ed. Ben Truwe. Web. 23 May 2014. "Dedication Of Hall At Talent,” Ashland (Ore.) Daily Tidings 5 Oct. 1885. Web. 23 May 2014.