Town of Oxford and Emory College
State Historical Marker
Located in park
at intersection of W. Pierce and Whatcoat Streets in Oxford
TOWN OF OXFORD AND
Map on Marker
Emory College was chartered
December 19, 1836 when Georgia Methodists expanded their educational
program. Named in honor of methodist Bishop John Emory (1789-1835)
who helped organize several northern colleges and presided over
the Georgia Conference in 1834, this Christian liberal arts college
was the outgrowth of the Georgia methodist Conference Manual
Labor School located in 1834 near Covington.
Early in 1837, 1,452 acres
of land two miles from the labor school, were purchased. Three-hundred
thirty acres were set aside for a Christian collegiate community
and named Oxford in honor of the English university where Methodist
founders John and Charles Wesley were educated. A Methodist minister
and surveyor, Edward Lloyd Thomas, who had planned Columbus,
Georgia, was chosen to plan Oxford. In April and May 1837, he
completed his plans by which Oxford's main streets converge on
the site of the central building of the college campus. By act
of the College Trustees, these streets were named for methodist
founders and leaders. One hundred and twenty-five lots were offered,
originally for 999 years lease, but later for sale, with the
provision that "no intoxicating liquors shall be sold, nor
any game of hazard allowed on the lots, under penalty of forfeiture."
Dr. Ignatius Alphonso Few
was elected first president of the college on December 8, 1837
and other members of the faculty were chosen, among them Dr.
Alexander Means. The cornerstone of the first building was laid
in the spring of 1838. The freshman and sophomore classes were
organized on September 17, 1838. Dr. Few resigned in July 1839,
due to frail health; and on December 23, 1839 the Town of Oxford
From then until Emory College
moved to Atlanta in 1919 to become the College of Arts and Sciences
of Emory University (chartered January 25, 1915 by the Methodist
Episcopal Church, South), the histories of Oxford, this college
and Methodism are almost inseparable. In 1919, however, the historic
ties were not broke. Emory College lives on as Emory University's
undergraduate division. The university's junior college, established
in 1929 and once called Emory-at-Oxford, flourishes here as the
oxford College of Emory University.
The following numbered items,
keyed to a map of Oxford, are some of the most historic people,
places and events in the town's, the college's and the denomination's
much entwined history:
1. "Old Church,"
central section built in 1841 (two wings added 1878), more than
any other building represents the ties between Oxford, Emory
and methodism. Commencement exercises were first held here in
1843 and thereafter this was the scene of great commencements,
orations and sermons. Here during the great religious awakening
of the 1850's, Young J. Allen, Class of '58, whom the Chinese
called Lin Lo Chih and the Church called "The Man Who Seeded
China," decided to become a foreign missionary. On Thanksgiving
Day 1880, Dr. Atticus G. Haygood delivered his famous sermon,
"The New South."
2. Phi Gamma Hall built in
1851 to house the first of the literary and debating societies,
is an outstanding example of the Greek Revival literary society
temple. George W.W. Stone, later distinguished professor of mathematics,
presided over inaugural meetings held prior to 1840. Literary
societies were a most important semi-formal part of the ante-bellum,
classically-oriented college curriculum.
3. Few Hall built in 1852
to house the Few Society, an outgrowth of Phi Gamma, organized
August 10, 1839, is outstanding Greek Revival architecture. Few
and Phi Gamma, rivals both in debate and for members, were intellectual
fraternities which helped to educate students and improve the
4. Soldier's Cemetery. During
the Civil War, the literary society buildings served as hospitals
where both Confederate and Union soldiers were cared for. Twenty-five
Confederate soldiers were buried here.
5. Seney Hall is a Victorian
Gothic, three-story brick Administration building built in 1881
on the foundations of the first Administration Building, a Greek
Revival structure erected between 1852-53 and torn down in 1872.
Seney Hall was constructed during the progressive post-Civil
War administration (1875-84) of Atticus G. Haygood (b. 1839 -
d. 1896), graduate of Emory College in 1859 and Methodist minister.
Haygood increased the college endowment from $13,000 to $97,000,
and increased the number of degrees granted from 14 to 1876,
to 25 in 1883. His liberal New South philosophy was expressed
in numerous sermons, lectures and books. His 1880 Thanksgiving
Day sermon (see no. 1), which came to the attention of George
I. Seney, a Methodist layman of New York City, resulted in Seney's
giving Emory College $130,000, of which $50,000 built Seney Hall.
The Seney Hall tower bell was given to the college by Dr. Alexander
Means to whom it had been presented about 1855 by Queen Victoria
6. "Language Hall,"
built in 1874, was one of several buildings constructed during
President Osborn L. Smith's administration (1871-75) with funds
raised by Bishop George Foster Pierce, President of Emory College
from 1848 to 1854.
7. "Science Building,"
built in 1875 under President Smith's administration.
8. Prayer Chapel, built in
1875 under President Smith's administration.
9. Few Monument, a marble
shaft erected about 1855 by the Grand Masonic Lodge of Georgia
in memory of Ignatius A. Few (b. 1789 - d. 1845), first President
of Emory College (see no. 12).
10. "Old Gym" was
built in 1885 during the presidency (1884-88) of Dr. Isaac Siles
Hopkins (b. 1841 - d. 1914) to house his pioneering technological
department. Because of his interest in technological training,
Dr. Hopkins was chosen in 1888 to be the first President of Georgia
Institute of Technology. With his departure from Emory College,
this shop became a gymnasium.
11. Candler Hall, was built
as a library in 1897 in the Neo-Roman style made popular by the
1893 Chicago Exposition. Against his wishes, it was named in
honor of Warren Akin Candler (b. 1857 - d. 1941), president of
Emory College from 1888 until the spring of 1898 when he was
elected a bishop of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South. As
Chairman of the commission created in 1914 to consider making
a new Methodist university east of the Mississippi, Bishop Candler
was one of the founders of Emory University.
12. The President's Home,
once described as "Greek Revival with Victorian trimming,"
is especially historic. Many Emory College presidents have lived
here since it was begun about 1837 by Ignatius A. Few, first
president (1837-39) of Emory College and a founder of both the
College and the town. Successive owners have enlarged the original
small structure. Dr. Few, as President of the Manual Labor School
near Covington, was one of those responsible for Oxford's being
the site of the expansion of the labor school into a liberal
Augusts Baldwin Longstreet
(b. 1790 - d. 1870), Emory's second president (1840-48) purchased
the house from Dr. Few in 1839. Judge Longstreet added the two
projecting front rooms which given the front porch, with its
trellised columns, the effect of a recessed entrance portico.
Previously active in Georgia politics (1821-25) and author (Georgia
Scenes, 1827), Longstreet became a Methodist minister in
1838. His popularity and well-known abilities lent prestige to
young Emory College during his presidency. Later when Judge Longstreet
was President of the University of Mississippi, his son-in-law,
Lucius Quintus Cincinnatus Lamar, Jr., the most distinguished
Emory graduate (1845) of the early years began a Mississippi
political career which eventually led to his appointment to the
United States Supreme Court. The Lamar School of law at Emory
University was named for him.
In 1848 George Franklin Pierce
(b. 1811 - d. 1884) became Emory's third president (1848-54)
and acquired Longstreet's home. Pierce, a leading Methodist minister,
had served as President of the Georgia Methodist Conference's
Female College (later Wesleyan) at Macon. Actively interested
in the momentous problems of the ante-bellum Methodist Church
and delegate to numerous general conferences in the late forties
and fifties, he was elected Bishop in 1854.
Atticus G. Haygood (see no.
5), eighth president of Emory (1875-84) and later Bishop, lived
in this house.
In 1889 Young L. G. Harris,
member of the Board of Trustees for whom Young Harris College
is named, presented the house to the college at its official
Presidents' home. The last three presidents before Emory College
moved to Atlanta lived here: Warren A. Candler (1888-98), Charles
E. Downman (1898-1902), and James Edward Dickey (1902-15).
13. The Alexander means' House,
owned by Dr. Means (b. 1801 - d. 1883) when Oxford was laid out
in 1837, was built by a Virginian in the early 1820's. It is
the oldest house in Oxford. Dr. Means, a Methodist minister,
physician, and professor of natural science, probably acquired
and remodeled the house at some point between 1834, when he began
serving as superintendent of the Manual Labor School near Covington,
and 1837, when he helped to found Emory College and Oxford. Alexander
Means, who called his porticoed Creek Revival house, "Orna
Villa," is one of the most famous personalities associated
with the town and college he helped to found. As professor of
natural science from 1838 until 1855, he was a pioneer in scientific
education; during those years in his spare time, he lectured
on chemistry at the Augusta Medical College; he preached; he
served as president of Southern Masonic College at Covington;
and in 1854-55 was President of Emory College. Dr. Means was
fascinated by electricity, which he called "God's vice-regent;"
some believe that in the 1850's in the old Emory laboratory he
made the first American demonstration of electric light. Undoubtedly
abreast of the latest scientific knowledge of his time, he was
a member of many learned societies. He died in Oxford at the
age of eighty-two and is buried in the Oxford Cemetery.
14. The Stone House was built
on the highest point in Oxford by Edward Lloyd Thomas, the surveyor
and Methodist minister, soon after he had planned Oxford in 1837.
In 1854, two years after Thomas' death, the house was purchased
by Professor George W.W. Stone who was graduated from Emory College
in 1842 and made a member of the faculty, serving, with only
a brief interruption, from that time until shortly before his
death in 1889. The Stone House with the Means' House (no. 13),
the Branham House (no. 15), the President's Home (no. 12), and
the Dickson House (no. 16) are the outstanding examples of private
homes where Emory College students were boarded. Until the Haygood
Dormitory was built in 1912, dormitories were considered to be
"facilities for mischief."
15. The Branham House, Greek
Revival, built around 1840 (see no. 14).
16. Capers Dickson House,
Greek Revival, built around 1840 (see no. 14).
17. Hopkins House, built about
1850. In a workshop behind the house, Dr. I.S. Hopkins began
experiments in technological education, which led in 1888 to
his being elected the first President of Georgia Tech. (see no.
18. "Kitty's Cottage"
location. Kitty was a mulatto slave girl willed to Bishop James
O. Andrew, President of the Board of Trustees of Emory College,
with the stipulation that at age nineteen she was either to go
to Liberia or remain as free as the law and society of Georgia
would permit; her decision to remain in Oxford, technically the
slave of a Methodist Bishop, partly brought about the organization
in 1845 of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South. Kitty's Cottage
was moved in 1938 to Salem Campground near Covington.
19. "Zora Fair's Cottage."
In November 1864, Miss Izora M. Fair, refugeeing from Charleston,
S.C. in Oxford, disguised herself as a country negress and attempted
to sneak into besieged Atlanta. She was fired on by Sherman's
pickets, taken to guard's quarters, questioned, and sent back
to Oxford; she is Oxford's "Confederate Girl Spy."
20. The Yarbrough Oak or the
"Prince of the Forest" is a large, old White Oak that
owns itself. In the 1870's the Rev. John W. Yarbrough, Dr. Atticus
G. Haygood's father-in-law, began a Yarbrough family tradition
of devotion to this magnificent tree, which inspired the commissioners
of Oxford to deed the tree to itself on September 30, 1929.
21. Oxford Cemetery, called
the "Westminster of Georgia Methodism," was part of
the original town plan. Taken with "Old Church" (no.
1), it speaks most eloquently for the historic ties between the
Town of Oxford, Emory College and Methodism. Buried here are
eight Presidents of Emory College, three of whom became Bishops
of the Methodist Church, and many both great and humble who might
echo Justice L.Q.C. Lamar's words uttered in July 1870: "No
spot on earth has helped to form and make me what I am as this
town of Oxford."
HISTORICAL COMMISSION 1966