Oxford, Newton County – There are a lot of beautiful old homes in Oxford!  I had the chance to visit on a brisk (OK let’s just call it REALLY COLD) morning.  Before the trip, I knew Emory at Oxford is here. Officially it’s Oxford College of Emory University.  There’s a lot of history – and this is also the birthplace of Georgia Tech?  Yes, it sure is.

Orna Villa, the oldest house in Newton County

Orna Villa, or Alexander Means House, built in 1825 is the oldest house in Newton County.  He was a founder and president of the college.  This Greek Revival home has also appeared in The Vampire Diaries!  Alexander Means did it all – he was a physician, a professor, and a Methodist minister.  There are lots of ghost stories about Orna Villa too – but we’ll just go look at more houses today.

Hopkins House – the birthplace of Georgia Tech!

Hopkins House – and Georgia Tech?  Yep!  Isaac Stiles Hopkins had a workshop to the left of this house, and persuaded the college to create a department of Technology in the 1880s.  He served as President from 1884-1888, before being recruited away to become the founding President of Georgia Tech in Atlanta.

Branham House, circa 1845

The Branham House, built around 1845 has all the classic features – and very large double doorways.  The home stayed in the family for 130 years until they willed it to Emory.  Later sold and extensively restored, it’s a beauty in the morning sun!

Branham House Historic Photo (Vanishing Ga Archives)


Emory College – Founded 1836

The Methodist Episcopal Church founded Emory College in 1836, naming the village Oxford in honor of Oxford University in England. The college is named in honor of Methodist Bishop John Emory.

The Old Church, 1841

Today just called the Old Church, this was built in 1841 (and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places) – later when the much larger New Church (below) opened, this became used as a community space.  It’s now owned by the City of Oxford and used for private, community, and college events.


The President’s House, circa 1836 – note the 2 additions on the front

The President’s House was built in 1836 by Ignatius Few, the first president of the college.  Looking at the house (which also has Victorian detailing added) I thought the 2 additions to the front were unusual…read on to find out about them!

Augustus Baldwin Longstreet

Augustus Baldwin Longstreet became the President of Emory College in 1839, and he added the 2 rooms to the front of the house.  Longstreet later became President of another Oxford College – The University of Mississippi (Ole Miss) in Oxford, MS.

Side View – President’s House

The 2 rooms added to the house by Longstreet are more visible from a side view of the house.  They were not attached to the house, and used to house students or Methodist Circuit Riders.

Fierol Place, circa 1900

Fierol Place originally had a much more Victorian look with it’s porch, this was altered during renovations back in the 1960s.  Love the color of this house!

Zora Fair’s Cottage, circa 1840

Built by Dr. Henry Gaither around 1840, this cottage has some stories to tell!  During the Civil War, Zora Fair, a Confederate Female Spy, hid in the attic of this home while soldiers were looking for her.  I got curious about this, and here’s what I found out:  she had been at General Sherman’s headquarters and heard about the plans for the March to the Sea.  She tried to send a letter to Confederate forces, but it was intercepted.  She hid here, and after the war she moved to North Carolina.

Haygood House, 1894

The Haygood House sits far from the street – it’s a huge home! Built for Atticus Haygood, the 8th president of the college.  He had left the area in the 1880s, but returned due to ill health and financial troubles.  College alumni, friends, and faculty all contributed to build this house for his family.  Sadly, he passed away 2 years after moving into the house.

Haygood House – late 1800s (Vanishing Ga Archives, UGA)

That’s our quick look around Oxford.  Thanks so much for reading the blog, really appreciate it – and thank you all for your notes/messages!  Always love hearing from you.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *