OXFORD — A historic building that most recently housed the Freeland Law Firm and was once home to the practice of Phil Stone, William Faulkner’s attorney and friend, will be the new headquarters for the city of Oxford’s tourism promotion agency.
The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal reports (http://bit.ly/1J5ByXe) the building is currently undergoing minor renovations such as new roofing, restoration of the hardwood floors and new paint on its millwork.
The city of Oxford signed a five-year lease on the location with an option for another five years, with Visit Oxford to move in early next month.
Dave and Anne Fair bought the building from Joyce Freeland after the death of her husband, Tom Freeland, whose family had practiced law there since the mid-20th Century. Dave Fair is the descendant of William Van Amberg Sullivan, who was a U.S. senator from Mississippi.
“I was always told that my great-grandfather built that office,” Dave Fair said. “Joyce Freeland said it was the longest-standing law office in Mississippi. It was something I always knew was part of my family, but I never dreamed I would be able to buy it.”
Mary Allyn Hedges, director of tourism, said the Victorian structure itself will be an attraction for visitors.
“The history of the old Freeland Law Building is a great tie-in to tourism, and using the space for a visitors’ center is the perfect way to show visitors and residents alike a firsthand look of the history of Oxford,” she said.
Visit Oxford has a staff of five. Recent additions had overcrowded the workspace in the location it has occupied for two years. That location also bears the temporary disadvantage of being adjacent to an active excavation and construction site.
The agency’s work includes promotion and advertising, creating tour packages, overseeing the Double Decker Festival, serving walk-in visitors and callers, providing printed and electronic visitor information, interacting with hospitality-industry professionals both local and nationwide and a host of other duties.
“We are thrilled to have obtained more office space as we are literally using every square foot of our current building and have outgrown this space due to the growth of our staff,” Hedges said. “Our new building will accommodate our staff as it’s twice the size of our current location with room to grow. This office will be the perfect place to start tours and will provide a facade that will generate much more foot traffic than our current location allows.”