Restoring the historic Oxford House and ways you can help.
By EMILY TOUCHSTONE
(Publishing note: Emily Touchstone is a student at Tarleton State University enrolled in a news gathering and writing class taught by Dr. Liza Benedict. Emily wrote this piece as a class assignment and sent it to beneaththesurfacenews.com. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.)
Rescued from the grips of demolition, the Oxford House is slowly being revitalized to its majestic style of the late 1800s.
The Queen Anne style three-story home was built in 1898 on Graham Street. The home was donated to the Stephenville House Museum by the Evans family in 2010. This house represents the only structure of its kind in Stephenville. Had the museum not accepted the house, it would have been torn down, forever losing a piece of Stephenville’s history.
The Oxford house is in the midst of a four-phase restoration plan.
The initial project to move the house included gutting the interior structure and cutting the house into 11 sections for the one-half mile move. Once moved, the exterior structure was reassembled on the museum property. The cost of that phase was $112,000.
The secondary phase included a new roof, repairing and painting the exterior structure at a cost of $105,000. The Oxford House committee does not move forward with a project until funds have been secured. Funds are raised through various methods of private donations, grants, fundraising and the city hotel tax that is designated for historic preservation.
The exterior hardscape that includes a parking lot, landscaping, exterior porch steps and rails will cost $100,000. The committee is in the process of securing a contractor to complete this work.
The fourth and final project will be the restoration of the interior of the Oxford House. This will include repairs to the interior structure, restroom upgrades, heating and air conditioning, new pipes, new electrical wiring and code compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
Dianne Wilson, the past chair of the Oxford House Committee, expects the cost for this phase to exceed $200,000.
“It is no small undertaking to preserve a historical structure like the Oxford House.”
The Oxford house is one of 12 nineteenth-century structures located on the six-acre property of the Stephenville Historical House Museum that provides the opportunity to take a look at what life was like in the late 1800s.
The foundation for the museum was laid in 1966, when local preservationists were determined to preserve the history of Erath County through these structures and the reenactments that take place at the museum.
The museum is available to host wedding, receptions, meetings and other similar events. The first floor of the Oxford House will be used in this capacity upon completion. It will also be used to display rotating exhibits.
The second floor of the Oxford House will be used by the Historical House Museum for artifact storage and repair. The information contained in these records are open to people doing historical research.
Over a decade has lapsed since the initial offering of the Oxford House to the Stephenville Historical House Museum. Through the efforts and hard work of many people, the project is nearing the 75% completion point; unfortunately, with the current pandemic, a completion date is not available at this time. When this goal is achieved, the house will provide a glimpse into the past, with help from the present, according to museum archivist and former board member, Cindy Shipman.
“Volunteers to support the needs of the museum; we can always use more volunteers of all kinds.”
There are many opportunities to volunteer, whether it is fundraising, archiving photos and documents, serving as a docent for elementary school tours, home repair skills or dusting a cabin.
To sign up, visit the museum’s website, https://shhm.org/contacts/ and submit your information and a museum representative will be in contact.
· Stephenville Historical House Museum, (254) 965-5880, https://shhm.org
· Dianne Wilson, (254) 485-0102, firstname.lastname@example.org
· Cindy Shipman, (254) 434-1670, email@example.com.