One of the buildings uptown will soon be taking a stroll down Brown Road.
The Township House, at 115 W. High St. next to the store Figleaf, will soon have a new location-the Pioneer Farmstead in Hueston Woods.
The structure will be moved Dec. 8. With financial help from Matt and Chris Rodbro’s company, Red Brick Property Management, the structure will be moved on a trailer to Hueston Woods. Although an exact price was not released, the Rodbros, as owners of the structure, have paid for 100 percent of the costs.
Plans to move the Township House have been discussed and then dropped for several years, however the plans have finally seen progress. The Oxford Museum Association, The Historic Architectural Preservation Commission (HAPC), along with city councilor Greig Rutherford and the owners of the building, Matt and Chris Rodbro, have been working to find a new location. A few sites were discussed, such as the Black Covered Bridge, the Pioneer Farmstead and the DeWitt Log Cabin. Yet the Pioneer Farmstead was the ultimate choice.
According to the press release, the historic period of the Township House-circa 1880-is attuned with the other buildings on the new site. Unlike other possible locations, necessities such as restrooms and electricity are already in place.
The Township House is a one-story Italianate structure. It was built in the year 1880 and served as the Oxford Township clerk’s office for about 70 years. While the building is old and hasn’t been suitable for modern day living or businesses, the structure remains intact and is structurally sound. When the building is moved to Hueston Woods, it will undergo renovations to bring it up to code. It will become a place for visitors to walk through and look at the history of the area and the Township House itself.
Rutherford, also an architect working on this project, said he is pleased with the building’s new location.
“The Pioneer Farmstead is a good location for the Township House,” he said. “It’s close to Oxford and the building will fit in with the other buildings on the site.”
Other locations didn’t fit the building from an aesthetic point of view, or the sites weren’t able to accommodate the house for functional purposes, according to the press release. For example, the Black Covered Bridge site didn’t have the right plumbing, which would have been necessary to have for the building.
But regardless, Matt Rodbro said he is pleased with the Township House being moved to the Pioneer Farmstead.
“I have worked closely with the Oxford Museum Association to get this building moved,” Matt Rodbro said. “We have been trying to move the building for several years. We were fortunate to find a home for it in Hueston Woods.”
When physically moving the building, the movers will employ a system of jacks that will go underneath the building that will help to lift the building up on the trailer. While making the drive to Hueston Woods, the trailer will be driving slowly, according to Rutherford. The foundation is currently ready at Hueston Woods and the renovations on the building will begin in spring 2008.
The cooperation from the community has been helpful in this project, according to Rutherford. Also, the local companies have been helpful as well-with the building’s move, there was concern that some of the wires were too low and the house would hit the wires. Utility companies have checked the wires for the commute and ensured that they are high enough so the structure will not hit them.
“The Oxford community should thank the owners of the property and those involved in the project for all the hard work everyone has put in to saving the Township House,” Rutherford said.
Rutherford also said he has been pleased with how the project has gone so far.
“This is a good example of people in the historic preservation, business and property owners working together for a good solution,” he said. “It shows that these fields don’t need to be against each other. There are always different points of view, but that doesn’t mean a mutually beneficial solution cannot be found. Everyone working on the project came with an open mind and creativity.”
With the move of the structure, there will be an opportunity for a new building to go in its place. Matt Rodbro stated there is a plan for a 16,000-square-foot mixed-use building to be built. The new space will have luxury lofts on the second and third floors, and a restaurant on the first floor-plans that Matt Rodbro said he is excited about. Specific details regarding the restaurant are still in the works.
“I believe that the increase in density will be a benefit to the west High Street business district,” he said.
Matt Rodbro is also excited to see what will come of the uptown district.
“I believe that in the year to come you are going to witness a revitalization of the uptown district,” he said. “The city’s attitude with respect to the uptown district has changed dramatically. I believe the current city council understands the importance of our uptown district and is working diligently to promote its growth. I believe that failed commercial and mixed-use developments in other parts of Oxford have demonstrated the need to focus the city’s efforts on our uptown district-it is the lifeblood of Oxford.”