Oxford, Mississippi

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Oxford, Mississippi
City of Oxford
From top, left to right: Swayze Field, Square Books, Oxford's downtown Square, The Grove at Ole Miss, The Lyceum at the University of Mississippi, Rowan Oak, Vaught–Hemingway Stadium, The Sandy and John Black Pavilion at Ole Miss
Location of Oxford, Mississippi
Location of Oxford, Mississippi
Oxford, Mississippi is located in the United States
Oxford, Mississippi
Oxford, Mississippi
Location in the United States
Coordinates: 34°21′35″N 89°31′34″W / 34.35972°N 89.52611°W / 34.35972; -89.52611Coordinates: 34°21′35″N 89°31′34″W / 34.35972°N 89.52611°W / 34.35972; -89.52611
CountryUnited States
 • MayorRobyn Tannehill[1]
 • Total26.71 sq mi (69.18 km2)
 • Land26.62 sq mi (68.94 km2)
 • Water0.09 sq mi (0.24 km2)
505 ft (154 m)
 • Total25,416
 • Density1,056.54/sq mi (407.94/km2)
Time zoneUTC−6 (Central (CST))
 • Summer (DST)UTC−5 (CDT)
ZIP Code
Area code(s)662
FIPS code28-54840
GNIS feature ID0691644
A double-decker tourist bus and the former Mississippi state flag contrast beside the Lafayette County Courthouse in Oxford, during the 2007 Double Decker Festival

Oxford is a city in, and the county seat of, Lafayette County, Mississippi, United States. Founded in 1837, it was named after the British university city of Oxford.

As of the 2020 US Census, the population was 25,416;[3] Oxford is the home of the University of Mississippi, founded in 1848 and commonly known as "Ole Miss".


Oxford and Lafayette County were formed from lands ceded by the Chickasaw people in the Treaty of Pontotoc Creek in 1832. The county was organized in 1836, and in 1837 three pioneers—John Martin, John Chisom, and John Craig—purchased land from Hoka, a female Chickasaw landowner, as a site for the town.[4] They named it "Oxford", intending to promote it as a center of learning in the Old Southwest. In 1841, the Mississippi legislature selected Oxford as the site of the state university, which opened in 1848.

During the American Civil War, Oxford was occupied by Union Army troops under Generals Ulysses S. Grant and William T. Sherman in 1862; in 1864 Major General Andrew Jackson Smith burned the buildings in the town square, including the county courthouse. In the postwar Reconstruction era, the town recovered slowly, aided by federal judge Robert Andrews Hill, who secured funds to build a new courthouse in 1872.

During this period many African American freedmen moved from farms into town and established a neighborhood known as "Freedmen Town", where they built houses, businesses, churches and schools, and exercised all the rights of citizenship.[5] Even after Mississippi disenfranchised most African Americans in the 1890 Constitution of Mississippi, they continued to build their lives in the face of discrimination.

During the Civil Rights Movement, Oxford drew national attention in the Ole Miss riot of 1962. State officials, including Governor Ross Barnett, prevented James Meredith, an African American, from enrolling at the University of Mississippi, even after the federal courts had ruled that he be admitted. Following secret face-saving negotiations with Barnett, President John F. Kennedy ordered 127 U.S. Marshals, 316 deputized U.S. Border Patrol agents and 97 federalized Federal Bureau of Prisons officers to accompany Meredith.[6] Thousands of armed "volunteers" flowed into the Oxford area. Meredith traveled to Oxford under armed guard to register, but riots by segregationists broke out in protest of his admittance.

That night, cars were burned, federal law enforcement were pelted with rocks, bricks and small arms fire, and university property was damaged by 3,000 rioters. Two civilians were killed by gunshot wounds, and the riot spread into adjacent areas of the city of Oxford.[7] Order was finally restored to the campus with the early morning arrival of 3,000 nationalized Mississippi National Guard and federal troops, who camped in the city.[8]

More than 3,000 journalists came to Oxford on September 26, 2008, to cover the first presidential debate of 2008, which was held at the University of Mississippi.[9]


Oxford is in central Lafayette County in northern Mississippi, about 75 miles (121 km) south-southeast of Memphis, Tennessee.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 26.7 square miles (69.2 km2), of which 26.6 square miles (68.9 km2) are land and 0.1 square miles (0.2 km2), or 0.35%, is water.[10] The campus of the University of Mississippi, west of downtown, is an unincorporated area surrounded by the city.

The city is located in the North Central Hills region of Mississippi. The region is known for its heavily forested hills made up of red clay. The area is higher and greater in relief than areas to the west (such as the Mississippi Delta or loess bluffs along the Delta), but lower in elevation than areas in northeast Mississippi. The changes in elevation can be noticed when traveling on the Highway 6 bypass, since the east-west highway tends to transect many of the north-south ridges. Downtown Oxford sits on one of these ridges and the University of Mississippi sits on another one, while the main commercial corridors on either side of the city sit in valleys.

Oxford is located at the confluence of highways from eight directions: Mississippi Highway 6 (now co-signed with US-278) runs west 25 miles (40 km) to Batesville and east 31 miles (50 km) to Pontotoc; Highway 7 runs north 30 miles (48 km) to Holly Springs and south 18 miles (29 km) to Water Valley. Highway 30 goes northeast 33 miles (53 km) to New Albany; Highway 334 ("Old Highway 6") leads southeast 19 miles (31 km) to Toccopola; Taylor Road leads southwest 9 miles (14 km) to Taylor; and Highway 314 ("Old Sardis Road") leads northwest, formerly to Sardis but now 11 miles (18 km) to the Clear Creek Recreation Area on Sardis Lake.

The streets in the downtown area follow a grid pattern with two naming conventions. Many of the north-south streets are numbered from west to east, beginning at the old railroad depot, with numbers from four to nineteen. The place of "Twelfth Street", however, is taken by North and South Lamar Boulevard (formerly North Street and South Street). The east-west avenues are named for the U.S. presidents in chronological order from north to south, from Washington to Cleveland; here again, there are gaps: there is no street for John Quincy Adams, who shares a last name with John Adams; "Polk Avenue" is replaced by University Avenue; and "Arthur Avenue" is lacking.


Oxford has a humid subtropical climate (Cfa) and is in hardiness zone 7b.

Climate data for Oxford, Mississippi (University of Mississippi) 1991–2020, extremes 1893–present
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 80
Average high °F (°C) 52.3
Daily mean °F (°C) 41.4
Average low °F (°C) 30.6
Record low °F (°C) −13
Average precipitation inches (mm) 5.13
Average snowfall inches (cm) 0.8
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in) 12.0 10.8 11.7 10.3 11.0 10.2 10.0 8.8 7.4 7.9 9.8 12.2 122.1
Average snowy days (≥ 0.1 in) 0.6 0.4 0.1 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.3 1.4
Source: NOAA[11][12]


Historical population
Census Pop.

As of the census[13] of 2010, there were 18,916 people, with 8,648 households residing in the city. The racial makeup of the city was 72.3% White, 21.8% African American, 0.3% Native American, 3.3% Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, and 1.1% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino people of any race were 2.5% of the population. The average household size was 2.09.

The median income for a household in the city was $38,872, and the average household income was $64,643. The per capita income for the city was $29,195.[14][dead link] About 12% of families and 32.3% of the population were below the poverty line.

Arts and culture[edit]


Rowan Oak

In addition to the historic Lafayette County Courthouse, the Square is known for an abundance of locally owned restaurants, specialty boutiques, and professional offices, along with Oxford City Hall.

  • The J. E. Neilson Co., located on the southeast corner of the Square, is the South's oldest documented store. Founded as a trading post in 1839, Neilson's continues to anchor the Oxford square. Neilsons (pronounced Nelsons) was one of the few stores to survive the burning of Oxford during the Civil war. It stands within eyesight of one of Oxford's two confederate statues (one was erected after the original faced south because the South "never retreats;" a Falkner (William added a "U") paid for the second). Neilson's also features a letter from William Faulkner, who repeatedly refused to pay debts owed to the department store. When the Great Depression hit Oxford and most of the banks in town closed, Neilson's acted as a surrogate bank, cashing paychecks for university employees and others. Neilson's is also the only store in Oxford to carry supplies for Boy Scout uniforms.
  • Square Books, founded in 1979, is an independent bookstore. A sister store, Off Square Books, is several doors down the street to the east. It deals in used and remainder books and is the venue for a radio show called Thacker Mountain Radio, with host Jim Dees, that is broadcast statewide on Mississippi Public Broadcasting. The show often draws comparisons to Garrison Keillor's A Prairie Home Companion for its mix of author readings and musical guests. A third store, Square Books Jr., deals exclusively in children's books and educational toys.
  • The Lyric Theater, just off the courthouse square, is Oxford's largest music venue, with a capacity near 1200. Originally built in the late 1800s, the structure became a livery stable owned by William Faulkner's family in the early part of the 20th century. During the 1920s it became Oxford's first motion picture theater, the Lyric. In 1949, Faulkner walked from his home in Oxford to his childhood stable for the world premiere of MGM's Intruder in the Dust, adapted from one of his novels. The building housed office space and a health center from the early 1980s. After extensive restoration, the Lyric reopened on 3 July 2008 as a live music venue. It also is used occasionally for film and live drama.
  • The Gertrude Castellow Ford Center for the Performing Arts on the University of Mississippi's campus hosts a broad range of events, such as symphony performances, operas, musicals, plays, comedy tours, chamber music, and guest lectures. The Ford Center, as it is commonly known, also hosted the 2008 Presidential Debate between former President Barack Obama and Senator John McCain.
  • The University of Mississippi Museum is located on the University of Mississippi's main campus. The Robinson collection of Greek and Roman antiquities and the Millington-Barnard collection of 19th century scientific instruments are permanent collections of the museum. The museum is also home to the personal collections of Kate Skipwith and Mary Buie. The permanent exhibits are free to the public.[15]
  • The Burns-Belfry Museum was previously the Burns Methodist Episcopal Church organized by freed African Americans in 1910. Now, the museum pays tribute to its role in the Civil War era. The museum houses a permanent exhibit on African American history that spans from slavery through the Civil Rights Movement.[16]


Historic sites[edit]

See also National Register of Historic Places listings in Lafayette County, Mississippi[18] and the Lyceum-The Circle Historic District, University of Mississippi.


The city is served by two public school districts, Oxford School District and Lafayette County School District, and by three private schools: Oxford University School, Regents School of Oxford[19] and Magnolia Montessori. Oxford is partially the home of the main campus of the University of Mississippi, known as "Ole Miss" (much of the campus is in University, Mississippi, an unincorporated enclave surrounded by the city), and of the Lafayette-Yalobusha Center of Northwest Mississippi Community College. The North Mississippi Japanese Supplementary School, a Japanese weekend school, is operated in conjunction with the University of Mississippi, with classes held on campus.[20][21]


  • The Oxford Eagle, founded 1865[22]
  • The Daily Mississippian, the student newspaper of The University of Mississippi, founded 1911
  • The Local Voice, a bimonthly entertainment guide and newspaper[23]


Health care[edit]

The Baptist Memorial Hospital - North Mississippi, located in Oxford provides comprehensive health care services for Oxford and the surrounding area, supported by a growing number of physicians, clinics and support facilities. The North Mississippi Regional Center, a state-licensed Intermediate Care Facility for Individuals with Intellectual Disabilities (ICF/IID), is located in Oxford.

Oxford is home to the National Center for Natural Products Research at the University of Mississippi's School of Pharmacy. The Center is the only facility in the United States that is federally licensed to cultivate marijuana for scientific research, and to distribute it to medical marijuana patients.


The city operates public transportation under the name Oxford-University Transit (OUT), with bus routes throughout the city and University of Mississippi campus.[24] Ole Miss students and faculty ride free upon showing University identification.

Mississippi Central Railroad provides freight rail service to the Lafayette County Industrial Park in Oxford.

University-Oxford Airport is a public use airport located two nautical miles (4 km) northwest of the central business district of Oxford. The airport is owned by the University of Mississippi.

Notable people[edit]

Sister city[edit]


  1. ^ "Tannehill becomes Mayor". Oxfordeagle.com. June 29, 2017. Retrieved February 2, 2020.
  2. ^ "2019 U.S. Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved July 26, 2020.
  3. ^ [citation needed]
  4. ^ Jack Lamar Mayfield. Oxford and Ole Miss. Arcadia Publishing, 2009, p. 7.
  5. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on August 5, 2008. Retrieved June 1, 2008.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  6. ^ "U.S. Marshals Mark 50th Anniversary of the Integration of 'Ole Miss'". Archived from the original on May 23, 2020. Retrieved April 23, 2020.
  7. ^ Doyle, William. An American Insurrection: James Meredith and the Battle of Oxford, Mississippi, 1962. New York: Anchor Books, 2003.
  8. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on April 2, 2015. Retrieved March 22, 2015.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  9. ^ "2008 Presidential Debate | The University of Mississippi - Official Home Page". Debate.olemiss.edu. September 26, 2008. Archived from the original on December 5, 2008. Retrieved May 2, 2017.
  10. ^ "U.S. Gazetteer Files: 2019: Places: Mississippi". U.S. Census Bureau Geography Division. Retrieved March 25, 2020.
  11. ^ "NowData - NOAA Online Weather Data". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved June 9, 2021.
  12. ^ "Station: University, MS". U.S. Climate Normals 2020: U.S. Monthly Climate Normals (1991-2020). National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved June 9, 2021.
  13. ^ "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 31, 2008.
  14. ^ Oxford, MS Household Income Statistics[permanent dead link]. CLRSearch. Retrieved on 2013-08-17.
  15. ^ "University Museum —". Museum.olemiss.edu. Retrieved February 2, 2020.
  16. ^ "Untitled Document". Burns-belfry.com. Retrieved February 2, 2020.
  17. ^ Didion, Joan (November 10, 2009). The white album (Paperback [reissue]ition ed.). ISBN 978-0374532079.
  18. ^ Thomas S. Hines (1997). William Faulkner and the Tangible Past : The Architecture of Yoknapatawpha. University of California Press.
  19. ^ "Regents School of Oxford". Regents School of Oxford. Retrieved April 18, 2018.
  20. ^ "Japanese Supplementary School." OGE-US Japan Partnership, University of Mississippi. Retrieved on February 25, 2015.
  21. ^ "周辺案内." North Mississippi Japanese Supplementary School at The University of Mississippi. Retrieved on April 1, 2015.
  22. ^ "The Oxford Eagle". The Oxford Eagle.
  23. ^ "The Local Voice | The Local Voice is Oxford, Mississippi's only locally-owned newspaper, featuring local food and drink specials, entertainment, sports, and local culture. The Local Voice covers Oxford, Ole Miss, and North Mississippi". www.thelocalvoice.net.
  24. ^ "Oxford-University Transit". Oxfordms.net. Retrieved May 2, 2017.
  25. ^ Schnugg, Alyssa. "Sister Cities". Oxford Eagle. Archived from the original on March 29, 2015. Retrieved December 12, 2014.

External links[edit]