By Steven Hoffman
A tour highlighting Oxford Borough’s historic district and some of its more interesting buildings will take place on Thursday, Aug. 14. This is the southernmost stop on the Chester County Town Tours and Village Walks program. Each stop offers a unique look at one facet of a small town’s history. The tour of Oxford will include not only visits to six buildings with historical significance, but also the opportunity to sample some of the food and drink that is available in town.
Oxford Mainstreet, Inc. (OMI) executive director Sue Cole helped plan some of the details of the Oxford event. She said that the town tours, which are held every two years, are a good way to learn about the history of Oxford. Oxford residents might have memories rekindled or could discover something new about their hometown, but it can also be a fun learning experience for visitors, too.
“We have found that, historically, a lot of the attendees are from outside the Oxford area,” Cole said.
The tour is a collaboration between OMI and the Oxford Area Historical Association (OAHA).
“I think it’s good for downtown Oxford,” said Vernon Ringler, the president of the Oxford Area Historical Association. “It gives people from other parts of the county a chance to see what Oxford has.”
Members of the OAHA will be stationed at each stop on the tour to share interesting stories about the building. These stories will incorporate the history of the town. Ringler noted that the tour will be an opportunity to enjoy the tastes of Oxford at businesses like Downtown Pasta, the Octoraro Hotel & Tavern, and Flickerwood Wine Cellars.
Cole said that registration for the tour will take place under a tent set up on Broad Street. The tour group will then move to the historic news shop building on Third Street, which is the home of Flickerwood Wine Cellars.
The tour will also stop at the Oxford Presbyterian Church, the Octoraro Hotel & Tavern, the Oxford Arts Alliance, which was long known as the Simon building, and the building at the corner of Third and Market, today the home of Bride by J, which was long known as the Oxford Hall.
During an interview two months before the tour, Ringler was already well-prepared for the assignment to talk about the historic news shop building on Third Street. He explained that the building was a tavern as early as 1812, and had many different uses through the years, including its current use as a wine tasting room. The building is referred to as the historic news shop building because of the period starting in 1967 when it was owned by the Ringler family.
Ringler explained that for a long period of time, newspapers were available at a store located near the railroad tracks, but that building was razed decades ago to make way for the Oxford Terrace Apartments.
The Ringler family, which has owned several businesses in town, opened up a news shop and eventually relocated to the historic news shop building as the business grew. At one time, the Oxford News Shop was selling 1,000 copies of the Sunday newspaper each week. Eventually, Ringler expanded the business to include everything from jewelry to greeting cards to gifts.
“It’s the store that outgrew its name,” Ringler said.
He added that there are many examples of businesses in town that have evolved and changed, and that’s just one example of what will be discussed during the town tour.
“It’s interesting to see how the town’s businesses transition through competition,” Ringler said.
For more information about the town tour in Oxford, visit www.downtownoxfordpa.org.