Oxford City Hall, former Federal Building and Post Office

Next up on the “101 Places in Mississippi to see before you die” list is the City Hall of Oxford, former Federal Building and Post Office for 90 years (1885-1975).  The City Hall took 5% (43 votes)  of the vote for the Oxford-Holly Springs region.  Originally constructed in 1885 in a Romanesque Revival style, additions were added in 1936, and the building was restored/renovated in 1975-76.   Architect Robert Parker Adams of Jackson was the architect for the restoration.

Given that the City Hall is one of the most frequently photographed buildings in Oxford, I am changing the perspective slightly and bringing more detail to the forefront: things I have not seen in other photographs.  Everyone has seen the building from the above (or similar) angle, but what about the details?

This arched and recessed window faces west.  It has beautiful detail in the brick work and decorative work in the recess.  I am sure those decorative tile-looking pieces have a name, and I will leave it to the experts here on Preservation in Mississippi to tell us what they are called.

The front door was either restored to its original form in the 1975 renovation, or revised for some other reason.  If one compares the photographs taken from the post-1933 HABS photographs, the difference is clear.

The circa 1933 photos show no fanlight over the door, nor the detail of the arched doorway.  The door was a simple square double entry.

The appearance of stained glass in the lower center of the fanlight (resembling a yellow sun) is actually an amazing coincidence: the light inside the hallway was on, and without my noticing, it perfectly centered into the circle area.  I only noted it when I looked at the similar design on the upper floor windows and wondered why the did not also have “stained glass.”

The north wall of the building is less ornate, but also with a half-circle window above simple arched windows.

There is intricate carving detail on the north windows that is not present on the front side of the building.  Contractor for the restoration was Elliott Lumber of Oxford.



Categories: 101 MissPres Places, Cool Old Places, Courthouses, Historic Preservation, Oxford, Post Offices

14 replies

  1. The doors pictured in the HABS photographs appear to be in a small enclosed vestibule which was appended to the front at some period. I assume this was removed in the restoration in the 1970s. Great post! I wish I had taken a closer look at this building while I was in Oxford!

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    • Yes, the(later) vestibule was removed in 1975. The strange configuration of the front doors was left as-found and simply refinished. This “strawberry sundae’ of a building was restored before many people were aware of things like the Secretary’s Standards. For instance, the bronze mail boxes (including the one where Faulkner received his rejection notices) were removed and melted down for salvage before the city obtained possession!

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    • Thanks, Tom, and thanks for the additional information.

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  2. I’d guess that the tiles are terracotta. The LOC says the HABS photos date to March 1975. Would the images have been taken as part of the process of transfer of ownership to the city?

    How fitting a 101 Mississippi Places post is for the 1001 post spot! Thank you for bringing Oxford City Hall to us.

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  3. Nice post! This building has always fascinated me so it was nice to have a bit of its history. I assume that it became the home of City Hall after the renovation in the mid-70’s?

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  4. Great post. There are some nice photos of it under construction, although I don’t see them anywhere online.

    When I was a kid (when it was still a post office) I discovered you could go up the stairs past the floor where the courtroom is and get into the attic– there is a whole room up there more or less sealed off by the 1936 addition that you can only get to by crawling, and it has a window with a great vista of the Square. I’m not certain, but I think it’s the window directly over the entrance up in the roof.

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    • Wow, stories like this show how much times have changed in a short time. I can’t imagine a child or adult being allowed to wander up to the attic of a federal building just for the fun of it, or even a city or state office building in this age of knee-jerk security concerns.

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    • Wowie Zowie. Reminds me of all the places my sister and brother and I sneaked off to where we were not supposed to go.

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  5. Thanks for the post. I will surely pay more attention to city hall next time I’m in Oxford. I really think we’ve lost something in the way of freedom ( I am referencing the story of climbing into the attic when the above poster was a child) in this country. When I was growing up in Laurel in the 70’s, we’d do the same thing when the caretaker of Parkview Church next door to my house went to lunch during the summer. We’d wave at cars from the flat rooftop of the pretty 3-story structure and roam all over the church, never doing any harm and enjoying total freedom. HAHA
    —Until a neighbor drove by, saw us on the roof, and told Mama!

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  6. https://polldaddy.com/js/rating/rating.jsIs the architect known for the original 1885 building?

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