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Walking tours offered in Oxford

The first of this year’s neighborhood walking tours will be at 10:30 a.m. Saturday in Springwood Subdivision, off State Route 73. The tour will look at mid-century modern architecture. Participants are invited to meet at 212 Oakhill Drive, shown here in the winter of 1960. That is the home of William and Ann Pratt, which will be the site of a tour at approximately 11:30 a.m. CONTRIBUTED
The first of this year’s neighborhood walking tours will be at 10:30 a.m. Saturday in Springwood Subdivision, off State Route 73. The tour will look at mid-century modern architecture. Participants are invited to meet at 212 Oakhill Drive, shown here in the winter of 1960. That is the home of William and Ann Pratt, which will be the site of a tour at approximately 11:30 a.m. CONTRIBUTED

National Historic Preservation Month will again be observed in Oxford with a series of neighborhood walking tours each Saturday morning in May.

Everyone is invited to take part in the guided tours which will include comments about the architecture of the homes in each neighborhood as well as historic significance of some of the homes on the tour. Arrangements are being made to actually tour one home in each area.

Steve Gordon, one of the organizers of the tours each year, said they are modeled after those of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

“Most communities do it through walking tours,” Gordon said. “We use a small microphone and walk the neighborhood and talk about it. It’s a great way to celebrate the community. We often get new people in the community who come to learn more about it. It’s a bit of a Welcome Wagon kind of thing.”

The tours are organized each May through a joint effort of the city’s Historic and Architectural Preservation Commission, the Smith Library of Regional History and the McGuffey House and Museum, which Gordon serves as administrator.

All the tours begin at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday mornings and will go until approximately noon.

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TO LEARN MORE

For more information about walking tours in May, call 513-524-5204 or 513-523-3035.

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The first tour will be May 6 with a tour of Springwood Subdivision, looking at its mid-century modern architecture. Everyone is invited to meet 212 Oakhill Drive to begin the tour. At approximately 11:30 a.m. they plan a tour of the home of William and Ann Pratt. Gordon said they are believed to be the last to move into the neighborhood who still live there.

The schedule for May 13 will focus on the South College Avenue and Collins Street neighborhood. That will be the weekend of Miami’s graduation and Gordon said that area was chosen because it is away from the area of Millett Hall and Yager Stadium. Participants can gather in the parking lot at 15 S. College to learn about 19th- and 20th-century residential architecture. The tour will be the home of Prue and Steve Dana.

May 20 will see the tour focus nearer to Millett Hall to learn about 20th-century residential architecture and a Craftsman Bungalow in the neighborhood of Bishop and Church streets. Meet at 400 E. Church Street to start the tour.

The May 27 tour will look at Shadowy Hills. Meet at Miami Inn Hall parking lot at 100 N. Patterson Ave. to learn about the neighborhood and traditional 20th-century residential architecture.

Gordon said Dr. Elizabeth Johnson is the primary researcher for the tours generating talking points to the tour guide to use in talking about homes the selected neighborhoods. She volunteers at Smith Library of Regional History and at McGuffey House and Museum.

“Dr. Johnson has a Ph.D. in art history and does a remarkable amount of historic research. She will not go with hearsay. She wants evidence,” Gordon said. “She has been a remarkable researcher for us.”

Sometimes, however, new information—and even a home tour—comes up while the tour is in progress.

Gordon said they have had people on the tours talk about interesting additional information about homes being looked at and Gordon said that makes them even more fun.

“One year, a house Cal Conrad had owned was on the tour on West Vine Street. While we were outside, a young woman came out and invited us in. That was fun,” he said. “People drive by houses and have no idea who lived there or the history. The tours are a way to start learning about the spectrum of the community through the community history and community architecture.”

Gordon has immersed himself in local history for many years and looks forward to the annual May tour series as both a learner and a teacher, encouraging others in the community to do the same.

“I think it’s a great way to increase interest in history and preservation,” Gordon said.