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OPC discusses Skipwith move

Oxford’s park commission members weren’t thrilled with idea of moving the historical Skipwith Cottage to an area near the Skate Park as was presented to them Wednesday during their regular meeting.

Jim Pryor, chairman of the Historic Properties Commission, presented the idea before the OPC board since the cottage would be located on property OPC manages.

The OPC doesn’t actually own the land, but it does manage it and maintain it.

Last month, Pryor presented the plan before the Oxford Board of Aldermen during a recessed meeting. The aldermen didn’t vote on the move but seemed to like the idea. It will go before them next week during the regular meeting for a vote.

The cottage sits on a concrete slab that is the roof to the small city building. The roof has been leaking for some time and forced RSVP to relocate after mold started to build up.

It once sat on the property of what came to be known as the Skipwith House, which was torn down in 1974. The home was owned by Peyton Horatio Skipwith, who used the cottage as his office. He bought the home after the Civil War when he moved to Oxford from New Orleans where he had been a successful and wealthy cotton broker and merchant involved in the slave trade.

Pryor and his commission were asked to review several areas and make a recommendation for the best spot.

“Why here?” asked Commissioner Allen Kimbrell. “Why not more populated areas like Avent Park or Pat Lamar Park?”

Pryor said the property located across from the Oxford and Lafayette County Public Library near the Skate Park seemed the best location because of the amount of traffic there for visibility and that the building could be used by the library for children’s programs.

Commissioner Marvin King said since it’s ultimately up to the aldermen where to move it, the decision should be left to them and that the commission didn’t need to vote on it.

“We do appreciate your time,” King told Pryor. “And we’re going to cut the grass anyway.”

Kimbrell also thanked Pryor for coming and asking for the commission’s support.

“We don’t really like the location, but we appreciate your presentation,” he said.

In other business Wednesday, the commission voted to allow a group of parents to move forward with fundraising for a splash pad at Avent Park. Once the funds are raised they would be turned over to the city of Oxford to be used for constructing the splash pad. Preliminary estimates on the cost of building a splash pad are about $400,000.