Oxford’s new pocket park opens Thursday

Published 6:53 am Wednesday, October 18, 2023

The City Hall Pocket Park will officially open Thursday, Oct. 19, at 4 p.m. This event is part of Visit Oxford’s Third Thursday program and will feature live music by Bradley Gordon.

Located near city hall, the new pocket park occupies a 0.14-acre lot that once housed the RSVP Building, constructed in the mid-1970s for the retired senior volunteer program and to display Skipwith Cottage, the city’s oldest surviving home. 

After the RSVP program moved and the building fell into disrepair, city officials voted to move Skipwith Cottage and repurpose the lot.

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Mayor Robyn Tannehill started transforming the space into a public green space in 2020. The park connects the city’s parking lot with the Lafayette County Courthouse, supplying a secure and accessible public area for various activities such as reading, studying, and socializing.

Designed by Mark Levy, director of special projects, the park features a meandering path with adjacent seating areas, creating passive spaces within an active corridor. The design prioritizes accessibility, with gentle slopes and wheelchair-accessible “off-path” seating areas. The park also incorporates stormwater detention systems to manage rainfall events.

Visitors can enjoy amenities, including eight tree species, more than 30 varieties of shrubs, perennials, groundcover, brick wall bench seating, public art, night-time illumination, bistro-style tables and chairs and security cameras. Notably, a bronze sculpture titled “Aurora VII” by artist Tom Corbin adorns the park, adding a touch of artistry rooted in the local culture and heritage.

A water feature donated by the Oxford Rotary Club enhances the park’s ambiance. The spherical fountain complements the park’s design and supplies an auditory experience.

Since the soft opening, the park has attracted a diverse crowd, including artists, musicians, students, children, shoppers, and daily pedestrians.