By Errol Castens
Daily Journal Oxford Bureau
OXFORD – One group of up-and-coming community leaders understands that while tourists don’t want things to seem too – well, touristy – they do need to know how to find the attractions that draw them to town.
Part of this year’s Leadership Lafayette class is leading an effort to buy and place tasteful but helpful “wayfarer signage” around Oxford. The first 28 signs and their eight posts have been ordered and are expected to be placed in September.
Making things easier
The idea was prompted by the number of visitors who had trouble finding the Square, Rowan Oak and other must-see places in Oxford.
“When you get off Highway 6 on Lamar, you’re headed toward the Square, but you still don’t see much telling you where anything is,” said architect and class member Edye Conkerton.
Phase 1 of the project will place the wayfarer signs at north, south, east and west approaches to downtown Oxford. Each sign will have white lettering on a blue background hung from wrought-iron posts.
Once completed, the network of signs will direct out-of-town visitors to such historic sites as Rowan Oak, William Faulkner’s home; the L.Q.C. Lamar House, home of Mississippi’s most noted statesman and headquarters of the Oxford-Lafayette Heritage Society; Burns Belfry, the community’s first black church building; the University of Mississippi campus and the downtown Square.
Similar signs will denote ways to both of the city’s four-lane highways, Oxford Activity Center, Lafayette County Industrial Park and the Lafayette County-Oxford Public Library.
When Leadership Lafayette representatives proposed the project in April, city officials were immediately enthusiastic.
“I think this is a great concept,” said then-Mayor Richard Howorth. “We want for strangers to be able to come here and find their way around, but for those of us who live here, we don’t want to feel like we’ve moved to Disneyland.”
Landscaper and class member Matt Copp said the project could mushroom into a citywide system of signs.
“We’ve got a second phase that we’re turning over to another class,” he said. “The first phase is a very small system, but hopefully someday it’ll reach out across the city and even into the county.”
Contact Daily Journal reporter Errol Castens at (662) 281-1069 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Read his blog at NEMS360.
Errol Castens/NEMS Daily Journal