Oxford boulevards vie for National Register status

By Jennifer Farish

Daily Journal Oxford Bureau

OXFORD – It is just beginning, but an effort is under way to preserve the historic and architectural character of North and South Lamar boulevards.

Residents of those areas, along with the city Historic Preservation Commission, are working to get the district added to the National Register of Historic Places.

The streets, which run north and south of the Oxford Square, already contain a number of places on the list, including Ammadelle and the home of famous statesman L.Q.C. Lamar.

Molissia Swaney, a resident of North Lamar and new member of the Historic Preservation Commission, said her house is the former home of Lamar's father-in-law, and the two houses originally were connected by a driveway.

Swaney praised the efforts of the city commission and the Oxford-Lafayette Historic Preservation Foundation, which has spearheaded the effort to restore the Lamar house.

“There are not a lot of old homes left in Oxford because the majority of them were burned,” she said, referring to the burning of homes and the courthouse by Union troops during the Civil War.

Why it's important

The designation is important to protect the character of the neighborhood, which has changed some because of new construction projects going up all around the Square, Swaney added.

The designation itself is primarily honorary. Property owners will be able to hang plaques of recognition but will maintain all rights to their property.

Because the application for the designation is in the early stages, officials have estimated it could take as long as two years for the area to show up on the National Register.

If successful, the area will join 10 other sites in the Oxford area that are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Three of those sites also have received the higher designation of National Historic Landmarks.

The designation will require the architecture of the buildings on North and South Lamar to be recorded and is expected to enhance tourism-related activity in the city.

City planner Tim Akers said the idea of creating historic districts is to preserve the history, architecture and culture of a place.

“It's really about the cultural character of a town,” he said.

Contact Jennifer Farish at 281-1069 or jennifer.farish

Joing Oxford's elite

If North and South Lamar boulevards are placed on the National Register, they will join 10 other sites in the Oxford area:

* Ammadelle, on North Lamar*

- Barnard Observatory, on University of Mississippi campus

- Chancellor's residence, on University of Mississippi campus

- McCain Hall, on University of Mississippi campus

- Church Hill Presbyterian Church, on College Hill Road

* Rowan Oak, on Old Taylor Road*

- Isom Place

- Lafayette County Courthouse, Oxford Square

* L.Q.C. Lamar House, North 14th Street just off North Lamar*

- Oxford Courthouse Square, Historic District

- St. Peter's Episcopal Church, South 9th Street

* Places that also have the higher designation of National Historic Landmark.

What is the National Register?

The National Register of Historic Places was established by Congress in 1966 to list buildings, districts, historic sites, archaeological sites and other properties that are recognized by the government as being worthy of preservation. Mississippi has more than 1,200 listings in the National Register, of which more than 130 are historic districts containing as few as two buildings to as many as 700 or more.

Source: Information from the Mississippi Department of History and Archives.