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Oxford Village Historic District


The Oxford Village Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1985. Portions of the content on this web page were adapted from a copy of the original nomination document. [1] Adaptation copyright © 2009, The Gombach Group.

Description

The Village of Oxford is located on the Chenango River approximately 35 miles north of Binghamton, New York in south-central Chenango County.

The Oxford Village Historic District is centered near the intersection of Washington Avenue, the route of the nineteenth-century Binghamton-Utica road through Oxford and the east-west New York Route 220 (State and Albany Streets), the route of the nineteenth-century Ithaca-Catskill Turnpike. The Oxford Village Historic District is physically defined on the southeast by steeply sloping open land and on its remaining edges by areas in which recent buildings and substantially altered older buildings predominate.

The Oxford Village Historic District boundaries generally follow the rear lot lines of the district properties and extend across streets, the Chenango River, and the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western right-of-way on lot line projections.

To the north of the Washington Avenue area of the Oxford Village Historic District, building density drops and there is a loss of architectural integrity. The residential area immediately west of Washington Avenue is characterized by modest residences, many of which have suffered a loss of architectural integrity. Outside the Oxford Village Historic District on South Washington Avenue is an area of open land and recent housing developments. East of the Chenango River, large areas of undeveloped land north and south of East State Street are excluded from the district, as are open fields southeast of properties facing Albany Street. The boundary also excludes a second area of altered modest nineteenth-century residences northeast of the blind-arcaded Federal period house at 31 Albany Street. The Oxford Village Historic District comprises the historic core of the village and includes 201 contributing buildings, seven contributing structures, and a total of 208 contributing features. One building, the 1810-1812 Theodore Burr House, was listed on the National Register in 1981. There are thirty-two non-historic buildings in the Oxford Village Historic District.

Commercial, institutional, and residential buildings range in height from one to three stories, with two-story buildings predominating. Residences in the Federal, Greek Revival, Gothic Revival, Italianate, Queen Anne, Eastlake, and Colonial Revival styles are found in the Oxford Village Historic District, with the Federal and Greek Revival styles being the most common. Many residences have contributing nineteenth-century outbuildings at the rear. Residential streetscapes in the Oxford Village Historic District generally present uniform setbacks of substantial middle and upper middle class houses placed within fifty feet of the street on somewhat narrow lots. Exceptions are the Judge Ransom Balcom house on south Washington Avenue, set well behind the prevailing setback on a large lot, and the slightly staggered placement of residences on the east side of Washington Park.

The intact portion of the commercial district is densely built up with buildings in transitional Federal/Greek Revival, Italianate, and Richardsonian Romanesque styles. Two-story frame buildings predominate. Frame church buildings in the Gothic Revival, Romanesque Revival, and Queen Anne styles and a Gothic Revival style church of local bluestone are set on relatively large lots in the eastern half of the Oxford Village Historic District.

Clustered near the right-of-way of the former Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad south of Merchant Street are a feed store, feed silos, coal storage buildings, a simple 1870s freight depot, all of frame construction, and an early twentieth century Arts and Crafts-inspired brick passenger station which illustrates the first thirty-five years of railroading in Oxford (1870-1914). Despite the addition of modern siding materials to approximately one-third of the residences and the installation of some early to mid-twentieth century storefronts in the commercial district, the Oxford Village Historic District retains a high degree of overall integrity.

Washington Avenue, at the west end of the Oxford Village Historic District, is predominantly residential in character and is lined with distinctive Federal, Greek Revival, Gothic Revival, Italianate, and Queen Anne style residences. Many of these structures were constructed during Oxford's early settlement period (c.1790-c.1830) and obtained their present appearance as a result of mid- and late-nineteenth century modernizations. The Italianate style S.R. Clarke house at 15 North Washington Avenue is a two-story five-bay Federal period house with tower and decorative embellishments. The French Second Empire style Watson house at 38 North Washington Avenue is an early nineteenth century two-story five-bay house which received a bell-cast mansard roof and one-story glazed porch in 1870. Several transitional Federal/Greek Revival style houses remain largely unchanged except for the addition of mid-to-late nineteenth century porches. An excellent example of nineteenth-century eclecticism and local woodworking craftsmanship is found in the c.1850 Clark Lewis house at 6 South Washington Avenue, with its low-pitch hipped roof, Gothic transverse gable with Gothic window and bargeboards, two-story portico with onion-bulb columns supporting finely carved scroll-decorated spandrels, and shouldered door and window surrounds crowned by anthemion scrollwork. Located across the street is the J.B. Wheeler house, a similar example of local woodworking skill. The Wheeler house, an early nineteenth-century three-bay Federal style residence, was embellished in 1875 with a monumental portico with battered columns supporting Composite capitals, open scrollwork spandrels and console brackets, segmental arched window and door surrounds, panelled and carved double doors, and a one-story side porch which resembles the front portico. In the pediment is a Tudor-arched window with an intricately carved surround. The 1939 U.S. Post Office building, located on Washington Avenue at the west end of Lafayette Park, is significant as an intact example of a federally designed post office. The five-bay, one-story building is built of brick laid in Flemish bond and topped by a hipped roof. The eight-over-twelve double-hung sash windows flanking the center entrance are set above concrete aprons in recessed segmentally arched bays.

The Oxford business district is located around Lafayette Park and on both sides of East State Street between Canal Street and the Chenango River. Located in the park at its western end is a low, square bandstand with a hipped roof supported by Doric columns, constructed in 1917; in the park's center is an ornamental cast-iron fountain.

The commercial buildings around Lafayette Park range in date from the canal era of the early 1840s through 1960. Buildings in the business district are predominantly two to two and one-half stories in height; notable exceptions are the 1894 three-bay bluestone and brick Richardsonian Romanesque style First National Bank of Oxford (National Bank and Trust Company of Norwich) building with hipped roof and conical tower and the non-contributing one-story buildings west of the bank building on the south side of Lafayette Park. These include the pentagonal McKenzie insurance office, a former gas station at the corner of Washington Avenue, and a one-story concrete-block commercial building with large plate-glass windows and brick veneer constructed in 1960.

On the north side of the park are the two and one-half story eleven-bay James Clarke House, a frame Italianate style hotel remodelled as a commercial building in 1914, the one-story Big Dave's Bait Shop, and the two-story brick Clark Block (1857) with its stepped and panelled early twentieth century parapet and three storefronts dating from the 1910s and 1970s. The Bait Shop is reputed to have been built (ca.1914) from a nineteenth-century lunch wagon which was originally mounted on wheels and carted to various road, railroad, and canal work sites. The most outstanding commercial building east of Canal Street is the Tuttle Block, just north of State Street. This simple two-story building, constructed of bluestone in 1843, retains its appearance as remodelled in 1879, when it received a simple cove cornice and second-floor segmental-arched, flat, and peaked window heads. On the north side of State Street east of Canal Street is a row of two-story transitional Federal/Greek Revival style commercial buildings in varying states of preservation and alteration. All have later nineteenth or early twentieth century storefronts; upper floors have a variety of siding materials including asphalt, original clapboard and pressed steel.

Fort Hill Park, in the center of the Oxford Village Historic District, is dominated by institutional buildings. In the north end of the park is a small non-contributing granite monument which commemorates Revolutionary War veterans who settled in Oxford. Major buildings around the park include the modern non-contributing fire house on the west side of the park at the corner of East State Street; the two-story five-bay Oxford Memorial Library (National Register 1981), built in the Federal style by Theodore Burr in 1810-12 and updated with Italianate style embellishment and portico with second-floor porch in the mid-nineteenth century; and the Romanesque Revival style Baptist Church, built 1832-34 and remodelled to its present appearance in 1879. The south end of the park is dominated by the two-story Colonial Revival style Oxford Academy Building, constructed of red brick with a monumental five-bay Ionic portico and domed two-stage central bell tower.

East State Street between Fort Hill Park and Washington Park is lined with residences and churches in the Federal, Greek Revival Gothic Revival, Italianate, and Romanesque Revival styles. Notable residences include the two-story three-bay Federal/Greek Revival style James A. Glover house which has a semi-elliptical gable window in the full pediment, twelve-over-twelve double-hung sash windows and semi-elliptical transom lights; the two-story, three-bay Joseph G. Thorp house (57 East State Street), a sophisticated example of the Greek Revival style with full pediment, Ionic pilasters, one-bay, one-story entry porch, and entrance transom and sidelights built in 1846; and the two-story Colonial Revival/Shingle style Melvin Walker house (East State Street), built in 1905, which is surmounted by a high gambrel roof with pedimented dormers, flared shingle siding on the second floor and porches, and a martin house on the gable roof of the small side porch. Other noteworthy structures on the north side of East State Street are the 1823 Congregational Church, remodelled in the Romanesque Revival style in 1874 with round-arched windows, rose window, towers and spire; the Queen Anne style 1887 Miller Memorial Chapel (Congregational), designed by prominent Binghamton architect Truman I. Lacy; and the 1860 parish house of the St. Paul's Episcopal Church, a Carpenter Gothic chapel designed by noted Gothicist Henry Dudley, which retains its simply carved bargeboards, board and batten siding, and simple stained-glass windows.

Merchant Street, which runs east from the south end of Fort Hill Park to Greene Street one block south of East State Street, is lined with a variety of one- and two-story buildings dating from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Notable mid-nineteenth century buildings on the street are the 1830s transitional Federal/Greek Revival style former Congregational parsonage (6 Merchant Street) with a semi-elliptical window in a full pediment above Corinthian pilasters, and the one-story c.1825 District No. 1 school (13 Merchant Street), which features a semi-elliptical attic window, cornice returns, and a simple transitional Federal/Greek Revival entrance surround.

Other buildings on the street are modest two-story vernacular transitional Federal/Greek Revival and Queen Anne style residences, (5, 7, 11, 15, 17, 19, 144 Merchant Street) and two non-contributing buildings: a nineteenth-century residence remodelled as a one-story Ranch house (8 Merchant Street) and the two-story United Church of Oxford Fellowship Hall (3 Merchant Street) constructed in 1956.

South of Merchant Street and adjacent to the right-of-way of the former Delaware, Lackawanna and Western railroad is located a complex of six nineteenth and early twentieth century railroad-related buildings and structures. These include the one-story 1871 Delaware, Lackawanna and Western freight house, which retains its clapboard and vertical board siding; a two-story 1870s coal shed with ventilating monitor, six-light windows and vertical board siding; two feed storage silos from the 1890s; the two and one-half story 1903 French and Mead Feed Store; and the one-story 1914 Arts and Crafts-inspired passenger station of wire cut tapestry brick with cut-stone trim, hipped roof, broad eaves and exposed rafters.

Washington Park, located at the intersection of East State, Albany, and Greene streets, is an irregular elliptical green space oriented on the same northeasterly axis as Albany Street, which runs along its northwestern edge. The park is landscaped with a mature planting of maples, oaks, elms, and evergreens. Located in the southwest end of the park is an octagonal gazebo with bell-cast roof built ca. 1880.

The one non-residential building facing the park is the Gothic Revival style Saint Paul's Episcopal Church at the southeast end of the park at East State Street. Designed in 1856 by noted Gothicist Henry Dudley, the church is constructed of local bluestone with an asymmetrical twin tower facade, and a nave and side aisle configuration. The square crenellated bell tower of the same stone, connected to the north aisle by a hyphen, was added in 1873. The remaining buildings surrounding the park are predominantly large two-story residences. Fifteen of these nineteen residences date from ca.1800 to ca.1840, and ten retain much of their pre-Romantic period appearance, notably the 1824 Federal style Gerritt Van Wagenen house, which features a modillioned cornice, six-over-six double-hung sash windows and entrance with fanlight and sidelights, and the 1831 four-bay Henry R. Mygatt house (5 Albany Street) with hipped roof, frieze windows, corner pilasters and side entrance which faces the adjacent ca.1830 one and one-half story Henry Mygatt law office (3 Albany Street) which, although altered by the addition of an early twentieth century porch, retains its cornice returns and corner pilasters. Other early nineteenth century buildings which received alterations between ca.1860 and ca.1910 include the 1806 Nathaniel Locke House (13 Albany Street), remodelled in the Italianate style in 1875, and the Bida Home (Washington Park), constructed as a tavern in 1802, converted to a three-story hotel later in the nineteenth century, and remodelled in the Neoclassical-Queen Anne style after a fire in 1903. An imposing example of the Eastlake style, designed by T.I. Lacey of Binghamton, is the 1875 William H. Van Wagenen house (9 Albany Street), a two-story residence with high hipped roof, two transverse wings with intricate gable in-fill, and an arcaded wrap-around porch.

Greene Street properties included in the Oxford Village Historic District include four early nineteenth-century Neoclassical houses on the west side of the street and an imposing Venetian Gothic house on the east side built in 1876. Notable among these residences is the large ca.1935 Augusta Godfrey house at 10 Greene Street, which is embellished by a louvered semi-elliptical attic ventilator and a wrap-around porch with square posts and simple scroll brackets. According to local tradition, the building originally served as a school before being moved to this location from Washington Park in the nineteenth century. The Ward VanDerLyn house at 5 Greene Street, designed by T.L.I. Lacy of Binghamton and built in 1876, is a large two-story example of a frame Venetian Gothic style residence. It features an irregular plan, steeply pitched roofs, three-story entrance tower with dormered pyramidal roof, Gothic-, round- and segmental-arched openings, and a Gothic arcaded porch with Composite order capitals.

Buildings on the remaining section of Albany Street within the Oxford Village Historic District are substantial middle-class residences in the Federal, Greek Revival, Italianate and Queen Anne styles, with the Italianate and Queen Anne styles predominating. A well-preserved example of the Italianate style residences is the J.C. Beardsley house at 23 Albany Street, a three-bay residence with a one-bay side wing, low-pitched hipped roof, cupola, paired cornice brackets, segmental-arched windows with round-arched window heads, and round-arched entrance porch. Typical of the large, simple Queen Anne style residences is the 1889 Charles Gillman house at 25 Albany Street, which features a high hipped roof, pedimented transverse wings, flared second-floor siding and a wraparound porch with corner gazebo. Also located on Albany Street, at the edge of the historic district, is the Dr. Austin Rouse house (31 Albany Street), an example of a blind-arcaded Federal style residence unusual for this region featuring blind fanlight, sidelights, modillioned cornice and an unusual cross-shaped gable light.

Pleasant Street, at the eastern end of the Oxford Village Historic District, was developed in the mid-1880s and is lined with simple, Queen Anne style residences. The most sophisticated of these is the Augustus Wayle house at 8 Pleasant Street. Built ca.1890, the two-story house features steeply pitched roofs, panelled bargeboards, diagonal stick decoration in gables, elaborate turned porch posts and console brackets under second-floor overhangs. More typical of the Pleasant Street houses is the Tom Currie house at 9 Pleasant Street, a rectangular house with offset gabled front projection, pyramidal roof, and simple spindled porch with entrance-bay pediment.

Significance

The Oxford Village Historic District is architecturally and historically significant as a largely intact village core which reflects the growth and prosperity of a small south-central New York valley community from 1794, when its first frame dwelling was constructed, until 1930, when the completion of the seventh Oxford Academy marked a hiatus in construction due to the effects of the Great Depression. The Oxford Village Historic District also contains one contributing building constructed outside the period of significance, the U.S. Post Office (1939-1940), individually significant as an intact example of a Depression-era federally commissioned civic building. The building features a mural by New York City artist Mordi Gaffner, also commissioned as part of federal unemployment relief efforts during the Depression. Oxford was an early educational and turnpike community which grew in importance as a commercial center following the opening of the Chenango Canal in 1837. With the inauguration of rail service in 1870, Oxford became a shipping center for local bluestone, produce, and dairy products. Following World War I, Oxford gradually became a bedroom community for neighboring Binghamton, Norwich, Sidney, and Greene. Oxford's development pattern is typical of the region: a small, compact, and densely developed two- and three-story commercial core, flanking areas of large middle to upper middle class detached residences on medium to large size lots, and areas of more modest two-story homes on the outer fringes. Due to the absence of major redevelopment pressure during most of the twentieth century, the Oxford Village Historic District has largely retained its nineteenth-century character. With its substantial middle and upper middle class residences and churches designed and built by architects and craftsmen of regional and statewide importance, commercial buildings and railroad buildings, the Oxford Village Historic District recalls Oxford's development as an educational, cultural, commercial, and transportation center in the region.

The settlement of Oxford dates from the period immediately following Governor Clinton's 1788 treaty with the Oneida Indians which opened the Chenango Twenty Towns to settlement. Benjamin Hovey purchased the site of present-day Oxford for a shilling per acre. Upon his arrival in 1791, Hovey discovered Elijah Blackman and his family squatting on an island in the Chenango River near the abandoned Indian fort at present-day Fort Hill Square. The Blackmans, who had arrived in 1789, moved up river to a piece of land granted to them by Hovey in payment for the forest clearing which Blackman had accomplished.

Initial development was spurred by Oxford's location at the intersection of the east-west Catskill-Ithaca-Bath Turnpike and the north-south routes of the Chenango River and Utica-Binghamton coach road and by the establishment of the Oxford Academy, chartered in 1794. One of only four such institutions west of the Hudson River, its reputation for excellence soon attracted students from all over the northeast and from as far west as Ohio. Notable graduates include New York Governor Horatio Seymour, John W. Allen, who served as Postmaster General under William Henry Harrison and McGeorge Bundy. Faced with increasing competition from other private academies and the rapid late nineteenth century development of free public academies, the Oxford Academy merged with the Oxford public schools under the name of Oxford Academy and Union Free School in the mid-1890s. (The present 1930 Colonial Revival style middle school is located on the site occupied by the old academy through most of the nineteenth century.)

In 1792, millwright/architect/builder Jonathan Baldwin and nationally famous architect and bridge builder Theodore Burr, developer and patentee of the Burr Truss, settled in Oxford; both men came from Egremont, Massachusetts. In 1800, Theodore Burr completed a stringer bridge across the Chenango River on the present axis of State Street, solidifying Oxford's position as an important crossroads and facilitating the development of Oxford's west side. Baldwin's and Burr's homes are among the earliest buildings in the village and district. Baldwin built a large vernacular Federal style residence/tavern/inn in 1794 on the present site of the U.S. Post Office on Washington Avenue at State Street. The building was embellished in the mid-to-late nineteenth century by the addition of a monumental Ionic portico and mansard roof. Now divided into apartments, the building was moved to its present State Street location in the late 1930s to accommodate construction of the present post office. Burr's home on Fort Hill Park (National Register, 1981) is a more sophisticated Federal style five-bay residence constructed in 1810-12. In the mid-nineteenth century it received a monumental portico with second floor porch and Italianate style segmental-arched window surrounds, while retaining its original interior detail. The building today houses the Oxford Memorial Library and the Oxford Historical Society and is Burr's last known extant work.

Most of the other surviving residences of this period have also been altered to varying degrees. The 1803 five-bay, Federal style Bennett Homestead has single-light lower window sash and is covered with vinyl siding. The circa 1810 James A. Glover House (Washington Park) received a mansard roof and two-over-two double-hung sash windows in 1879. The 1806 Nathaniel Locke house (18 Albany Street) and the circa 1812 Epaphras Miller house (Fort Hill Square) were altered in the Italianate style in the 1870s. In contrast, many early nineteenth century houses such as the circa 1825 Hyde house (Washington Park) and the pre-1824 Gerrit Van Wagenen house (Washington Park) are largely unchanged.

The completion of the Chenango Canal in 1837 and the location of Chenango County's only toll station in Oxford enhanced the village's position as a transportation center. The canal, which linked Binghamton to the Erie Canal at Utica, opened the New York City market to Chenango County produce and dairy products. Before the completion of the canal, export of local products was largely limited to rafting of goods to Baltimore during the spring floods of the Chenango River and Susquehanna River. The canal's impact on Oxford's economy is illustrated by several surviving early canal-era commercial buildings. In 1843, Cyrus Tuttle constructed an impressive two-story stone building for his general store. Built on the east side of Canal Street immediately north of State Street, the bluestone for the later-modified Greek Revival style building was brought to the site from south Oxford on the Chenango Canal, which followed the route of Canal Street. The row of frame transitional Federal/Greek Revival style commercial buildings adjacent to the Tuttle Block on (67, 68, 69, 70, 71 and 72) State Street also date from the early 1840s. One of the primary direct beneficiaries of the improved transportation provided by the canal was the storage and forwarding firm of Ethan Clarke which quickly became a major handler of Chenango County produce. Clarke's two-story brick commercial block and frame warehouse survives at the northwest corner of State and Canal Streets. The Greek Revival style business block, which has received a panelled and stepped parapet and 1910s and 1920s storefronts, has been scheduled for phased restoration to its Greek Revival period appearance. The warehouse, altered by the addition of doors and windows, retains its hoist and lift doors and late nineteenth century pressed metal exterior. When his earlier buildings were destroyed by fire in 1857, Clarke was financially able to hire noted New York City architect Henry C. Dudley to design the Clarke Block. Clarke, a member of the St. Paul's Church Vestry, probably met Dudley during Dudley's work on the new St. Paul's Church in 1856 and 1857.

Oxford's mid-nineteenth century architectural awareness and sophistication are illustrated in the choice of Henry Dudley (1813-94) as architect for St. Paul's Church (1856-57). Trained as an architect in his native England, Dudley was an adherent of the principles of the Anglo-Catholic Cambridge Camden Society. In 1852, the four year old New York Ecclesiological Society, American counterpart of the English society, included Dudley on the first list of approved architects. He was also a charter member of the American Institute of Architects in 1857 and later served on its national board of directors. Built of local bluestone, the deep chancel and archeologically correct Gothic massing and details of St. Paul's Church reflect a current national trend in Episcopal and other American ecclesiastical architecture and mark a departure away from the entrenched Neoclassicism of American church architecture of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.

During the canal era, Oxford woodworkers developed a local tradition of very high quality woodworking and woodcarving which persisted through the nineteenth century. Many examples of this work survive in the Oxford Village Historic District. One of the earliest of these craftsmen to leave documented works was Elihu Cooley (1805-1882), who was involved in the construction or improvement of all but one of the churches in Oxford, including St. Paul's, where he was called upon to recreate relatively unfamiliar Gothic forms. He was responsible for the construction of many new residences as well as for alterations to many older residences. Nelson Purdy worked in the Oxford area for several years prior to leaving for Dunkirk, New York in 1851. Among his works are the transitional Federal/Greek Revival style, circa 1840 Major O.C. Curtis house at 7 Albany Street and the circa 1840 James G. Van Wagenen house at 17 Merchant Street. Both houses feature finely detailed woodwork, including semi-elliptical attic lights in their street facade pediments. The late nineteenth century work of David and James Sherwood is represented in the 1887 Queen Anne style Henry M. Miller Memorial Chapel on East State Street, the 1875 William H. Van Wagenen house at 9 Albany Street and the 1882 Warn house at 13 North Washington Avenue. The Sherwood-built houses both feature elaborate gable infill, round-arched window heads and finely detailed porches. As a result of his wood carving skill, James was hired to carve twelve doors for the State Capitol in Albany, no two of which are alike. Two unattributed examples of exceptional woodworking are the circa 1850 Clarke Lewis house at 6 South Washington Avenue and the circa 1850 J.B. Wheeler house at 7 South Washington Avenue. The Lewis house is embellished with richly carved Gothic bargeboards and attic window surrounds, scroll-motif spandrels supported by onion-bulb columns and delicate anthemion window heads. The Wheeler house was embellished in 1875 by the addition of a monumental portico with battered columns supporting Composite capitals, open scroll-sawn spandrels, carved brackets and keystones, Gothic pediment window with intricately carved surround, and a one-story side porch which resembles the front portico.

Other impressive canal-era residences include the 1853 Dr. Eccleston house, a Gothic Revival style cottage at 14 South Washington Avenue; the transitional Federal/Greek Revival style Squire Morehouse house at 18 Albany Street, built circa 1840 and expanded circa 1850; and the Greek Revival style Joseph G. Thorp house at 57 East State Street, built in 1846 from a design by Nelson C. Chapman.

The coming of the railroad to Oxford before the closing of the Chenango Canal in 1877 ushered in a period of renewed growth and helped create Oxford's economic security through the early twentieth century. Rail service was inaugurated by the Midland (New York, Ontario and Western) and the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western railroads in February and December of 1870. Rail service made possible the shipment of fresh milk to New York City and encouraged development of the local bluestone quarries by providing feaster, more flexible transportation and allowing shipment of larger pieces of stone. A complex of six well-preserved buildings and structures related to operations of the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad recall Oxford's importance as a rail depot. They are located in the Oxford Village Historic District south of Merchant Street and include a feed store and grain silo, coal sheds, an 1870s frame freight depot, a 1914 Arts and Crafts-inspired brick passenger station.

In 1874, Francis G. Clarke formed the firm of F.G. Clarke and Son, succeeded in 1890 by the F.G. Clarke Bulue Stone Co. The Clarke firm operated four quarries in Oxford and South Oxford, two of which were the largest bluestone quarries in the country, and shipped curbing, large dimension stone and finished building elements all over the northeast, from southern New England to Philadelphia. By 1889, nearly three hundred men were employed at the Clarke quarries in Oxford and South Oxford west of the village. An increased demand for housing accompanied the growth of the quarries, and several new streets were laid out and developed in the 1880s, including Pleasant Street within the historic district. In addition to the relatively modest middle-class Queen Anne residences on Pleasant and other new streets, many substantial residences were constructed in older areas of the village, in the Eastlake, Queen Anne and Colonial Revival styles during this period, including 13 and 25 North Washington Avenue; 9, 13, 17, 19, and 21 South Washington Avenue, and the Melvin Walker house on East State street. T.I. Lacey of Binghamton, regionally prominent architect who later designed Binghamton's first skyscrapers, designed the eclectic High Victorian Gothic/Italianate style William H. Van Wagenen house constructed by local builder David C. Sherwood at 9 Albany Street and the Ward VanDerLyn house at 5 Greene Street. Both houses are frame expressions of the currently popular Venetian Gothic style, which combined the Gothic arch and Gothic embellishment with classical Italian forms such as round arches and Tuscan order columns. These buildings are notable, not only for their frame rather than masonry construction, but also for the high level of craftsmanship. Decorative elements such as brackets and bargeboards are carved in three dimensions rather than merely scroll-sawn and doors and interiors are finely detailed. Lacey also designed the Queen Anne style Henry M. Miller Memorial Chapel (Congregational) on East State Street, built in 1887.

Like many of Oxford's early buildings, the adjacent Presbyterian (later Congregational) church was modernized during this period. Originally a simple Federal period church built in 1823, it was remodelled in the Romanesque Revival style in 1874. The 1832 Baptist Church on Fort Hill Square another simple transitional Federal/Greek Revival style edifice, was also remodelled in a simpler vernacular version of the Romanesque Revival style in 1879.

Several residences took on French Second Empire and Italianate expansions and elaboration. Notable examples include the S.R. Clarke house at 15 North Washington Avenue, the Nathaniel Locke house at 18 Albany Street, and the J.B. Wheeler house at 7 South Washington Avenue, which received "a pleasing variety of fancy work added to the front of the house."

The major addition to the business district in the late nineteenth century was the 1894 National Bank of Oxford, designed by prominent New York State architect Isaac Perry (1822-1904). Perry was especially noted for his work on the New York State Capitol and for his designs for many large public structures and armories. This bank, designed near the end of his sixty-five year career, reflects Perry's admiration for the work of Henry Hobson Richardson, whose work he had come to know and admire while working on the State Capitol at Albany. The three-story brick and stone building features a conical corner tower, massive rock-faced stone masonry, and large round arches typical of the Richardsonian Romanesque style.

Very little construction took place in the Oxford Village Historic District after 1900, reflecting Oxford's stabilization as a transportation center for local produce and the gradual decline of the bluestone industry. Advancements in the building technology of structural steel and reinforced concrete coupled with changes in architectural taste led to the closing of the quarries in the early twentieth century. The two major buildings erected in Oxford between the world wars were the seventh Oxford Academy building (1930) and the U.S. Post Office (1939-1940). The post office is a finely crafted Neo-Federal style one and one-half story brick building designed by the Federal Works Agency. Built from a standard design which was used in several small communities, the Oxford post office also contains a mural depicting the arrival of early settlers in Oxford. Executed by New York City artist Mordi Gaffner, the mural was commissioned by the Treasury Department's Section of Fine Arts, one of four New Deal agencies which commissioned works of public art and thereby provided support for artists during the Great Depression. The Oxford post office is significant as a well-preserved example of a Depression-era Federal building which makes stylistic reference to early American Neoclassical styles; it also recalls the Roosevelt Administration's efforts to provide local economic relief through construction and embellishment of public works.

Since World War I, Oxford has functioned as a bedroom community for the surrounding communities of Norwich, Greene, Binghamton, and Unadilla. Twentieth-century residential and commercial development has occurred primarily on the fringes of the nineteenth-century core of the village, thereby largely preserving its historic character.

References

Albany, New York, New York State Division for Historic Preservation Research Files.

Oxford, New York, Oxford Historical Society Research Files.

  1. Englert, Robert T., New York State Division for Historic Preservation, Oxford Village Historic District, nomination document, 1985, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.

Oxford Village Historic District Map

Street Names
Albany Street • Depot Street • Fairview Street • Fort Hill Park • Main Street • Merchant Street • Pleasant Street • Route 220 • Route 32 • State Street West • Washington Avenue • Washington Avenue North • Washington Park

**Information is deemed reliable but not guaranteed. You should independently verify any information you use for decision making.
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