Board gives mayor authority to continue talks with guild about Cedar Oaks’ future

Published 3:47 pm Wednesday, May 8, 2024

The Oxford Board of Aldermen voted Tuesday to allow Mayor Robyn Tannehill to continue discussions with the Cedar Oak Guild regarding possibly transferring the history Cedar Oaks mansion to the Guild.

Tannehill told the board Tuesday that she has met with several members of the Cedar Oaks Guild recently as well as members of the Historic Properties Commission to discuss the Guild taking possession of the home.

“We want to see the house maintained, just as the Cedar Oaks Guild does, and used in a way that benefits the most taxpayers and I think there are several ways to accomplish that,” Tannehill said. “I believe that it’s in the best interest of the home, in the best interest of the guild and in the best interest of the taxpayers for the home to be cared for by the people who love it the most.”

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The city came under fire in February when an agenda item appeared for a Board of Aldermen meeting calling for a resolution seeking local and private legislation that would allow the sale of Cedar Oaks.

The Cedar Oaks Guild members showed up to the meeting, angry that they had not been consulted and were fearful that the city planned to sell the mansion for it and the surrounding property to be commercially developed.

“This board has never proposed selling lots for development. We have never proposed selling the house for it to be torn down and redeveloped,” Tannehill said Tuesday.

She apologized for her “lack of effective communication,” in February.

Tannehill said the Cedar Oaks mansion is in good shape with a new roof, paint, new appliances and a two-year-old HVAC system.

“So I believe that with the guild’s help, the house is very well maintained and in a really good place right now,” she said, adding that she felt the Guild, since it is a nonprofit organization could have additional funding mechanisms to keep it maintained than the city has.

Tannehill said any agreement to transfer the house to the Guild would include a reverter clause to give the house back to the city.

With no public comment,  the Board voted to grant Tannehill the authority to continue discussions with the Cedar Oaks Guild and facilitate an agreement between the city and the Guild, should the Cedar Oaks Guild agree to take over the house.

Built in 1859 by master builder and self-trained architect William Turner as his residence, the home was moved from North Lamar Boulevard to its present location in east Oxford off Sisk Avenue in the late summer of 1963.

It was owned and managed by Oxford Lafayette Historic Homes, the umbrella organization for three women’s clubs — Centennial Study Club, Cosmopolitan Study Club and the Readers Guild (now all rolled into the Cedar Oaks Guild) for more than 50 years.

In 2010, the house was deeded to the city of Oxford and is now managed by the Historic Sites Commission of Oxford.