Merry motorists making their way across the city might want to avoid parts of downtown Stephenville Tuesday, according to city officials. Hospital and postal patrons are being advised to plan their route wisely and park in special designated areas due to a preservation project that will make its way down portions of Graham and Washington streets.
Portions of those streets will be closed to make way for a "painted lady" who will be traveling to her new home.
Two sections of the currently dissected Oxford House will be transported from their current location on Graham Street, near Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital and the post office, to a property adjoining the east side of the Stephenville Museum grounds.
To facilitate the move of the two sections of the structure's lower level, Graham Street (State Highway 108) will be closed from Frey Street to Washington Street beginning at 9 a.m. and will remain closed until as late as 1p.m.
Once the Oxford House clears, traffic on Graham will be restricted on East Washington Street (US Highway 377 Business). That closure will span Graham to Lennox Street, and the streets will remain closed until the painted lady has been "situated" at her new home.
Motorists with business to conduct at the hospital are being advised to park their vehicles in the hospital parking on Belknap Street. According to city officials, the parking lots will be monitored for use by hospital patrons only.
Meanwhile, postal patrons will be allowed to use the Graham Street Church of Christ parking lot, located at the southeast corner of Tarleton and Graham streets.
The Oxford House has been making headlines for months as the museum and its supporters rallied to save it.
Museum board president Robin Ritchie spoke to the importance of the project in July, after Drs. Bill and Nanette Evans purchased the land where the Oxford House is currently located. Ritchie asked the community to prevent an important part of the city's history from being demolished.
"We are pleading to the whole community, anyone that has any ties at all with Stephenville and Stephenville's history, this is the time to step up," she said. "We haven't had a campaign like this since 1976 when we moved the Chapel on the Bosque. The community rallied then and was able to do it. Now we have the Chapel on the Bosque that the community can still enjoy and it's beneficial to the museum."
Once the structure is pieced back together, the next phase is to restore the historical home.
The museum anticipates the Oxford House will one day provide space for indoor activities for children attending Camp Pioneer; host rotating exhibits that highlight local and regional contributions by families, organizations and businesses to Stephenville's history; house a research center that includes documents, maps and photographs for history enthusiasts and genealogists; host local events; and much more.
The second floor of the Oxford House is expected to be moved next month.