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Oxford, NC, population of about 8,600, is a growing small town with a vibrant downtown area and a rich history. It’s becoming a popular destination for home buyers who want the benefits of a smaller community - neighborhood block parties, kids riding their bikes to school - while working in RTP, Durham, or Chapel Hill.
Incorporated in 1816, Oxford was a primary site for the cultivation of the “bright leaf” variety of tobacco and the businesses drawn to Oxford created a thriving local economy. A brick commercial district downtown, schools, banks, hardware stores, churches, professional offices, and even an opera house found a place in Oxford by the late 19th century.
The 20th century brought huge changes to Oxford. Camp Butner, established at the beginning of World War II to serve as a staging area during the war, took over much of the tobacco fields. Folks left to find opportunities in larger cities. In the 50s and 60s, city leaders started outreach to bring new industries to Oxford and surrounding Granville County. They were successful! By the 1980s, the economy ceased to be primarily agricultural but 38 major manufacturing industries called Oxford home.
Today, manufacturing still plays a key role in Oxford and the small town is also home to an economy where small businesses, entrepreneurs, and the arts thrive.
Downtown Oxford is the center of most community events, parades, and festivals. The most popular festival each year is the NC Hot Sauce Contest & Festival, whose motto is “The only festival taking pride in making grown men cry!” Thousands visit Oxford to sample hot sauces from around the state, view a classic car show, listen to live music, and even participate in a pepper eating contest.
The Granville County Chamber of Commerce hosts three Alive After Five events each year, one of which is always held in Oxford, providing an opportunity for local businesses to meet each other and the community at large. Food and beverage vendors are featured along with local musicians - and there’s dancing!
Other yearly events include a Lighting of the Greens and Christmas Parade, Veterans Day parade, a Spooktacular Candy Stroll for Halloween, Easter Egg hunt, and a Back to School Bash.
Food & Drink
For a small town, Oxford features a wide range of locally-owned restaurants beyond national chains. The Main Street Oasis is a family-style, fine dining restaurant. Lunch features sandwiches, wraps, salads, a salad bar, burgers, and fresh-baked bread. Dinner is candlelight, fine tablecloths, and food that includes NY strips, ribeyes, filets, chicken, sushi-grade tuna, mahi-mahi, and salmon.
The Strong Arm Baking Co. serves a selection of breakfast and lunch sandwiches for pick-up Tuesday - Saturday. Julia and Thomas Blaine, the duo behind Strong Arm, also deliver a wide variety of breads, pastries, and main dishes throughout the Triangle area each week. I personally get the Strong Arm “Porch Drop” where they come to your home once a week and drop off all kinds of goodies. For example, it’s currently Summer and we got an “Orange Creamsicle Bowl” delivered last week - delicious!
Harvest Restaurant offers lunch Monday - Friday, sandwiches, salads, and desserts with the freshest local farm foods while George’s offers a variety of foods such as pizzas, pasta, subs, salads, plus entrees of beef, fish, and chicken. Homemade desserts and a full bar are also available.
Also popular is Uptown 101 is known for its tender prime cut rib-eye, lamb chops, and weekly specials. They feature live music on Friday and Saturday nights.
Oxford is home to the Tobacco Wood Brewing Company, the first female veteran-owned brewery in NC. In addition to a wide variety of craft beers, TWBC also serves a selection of wings, sandwiches, tacos, BBQ, and desserts.
Shopping and Entertainment
Downtown Oxford is home to the Hub on Main, where you can find craft beer, fine wine, specialty gifts, and gourmet food; they are also in the process of developing a downstairs art gallery. Nan’s is a children’s boutique in Downtown Oxford that has served the community since 1986 and offers fun and unique quality children’s clothing. Remember When Antiques offers antiques and home decor for both home and garden.
Also downtown is a restored Art Deco theater, the Orpheum at Oxford, which is now a performance and event venue. The Granville Museum houses three exhibit rooms, conference room, and archival storage, along with a permanent art exhibit on Granville County's rich history and culture.
More than 200 historical properties are within easy walking distance of downtown; there is a self-guided walking tour through Historic Oxford.
The City of Oxford is creating a Sculpture Trail, a series of outdoor sculptures from both local artisans as well as other NC sculptures, to be placed in the most well-traveled locations in downtown Oxford by the end of summer, 2022.
Neighborhoods in Oxford
In Oxford’s historic districts, you’ll find everything from bungalows to 20th-century mansions. Many of these homes have been restored, but there may be a few gems waiting for the right restoration-minded homeowner.
Historic homes for sale can be found around $250k with 1500 sq. ft. while smaller homes, not restored, can be found under $200k. Larger homes, 3-4 bedrooms in 2500+ sq. ft., start around $320k and can easily reach $500k+. If you're interested in historic homes, also check out our Historic Homes Raleigh and Historic Homes Durham pages.
There are many neighborhoods surrounding downtown that are also a combination of historic, ranch, and suburban homes, and some even have larger lots. Nearby Meadowbrook for example, has homes for sale under $250k, with most under 1300 sq. ft. Other neighborhoods in this area include Green Acres and Rollingwood which has smaller 3 bedroom, 2-bath homes for around $200k.
Overall, the median home price for sale in Oxford is $275k, or about $150 per sq. ft. New communities include Oxford Park, a planned community with larger homes, a great pool complex and athletic park, and lots of sidewalks; it is just minutes from I-85. Another new community is Lexington Park, where 3 bedroom, 2-bath homes start around $250k. Oxford is really focusing it's efforts on providing affordable housing to the area, which is desperately needed.
While Oxford continues to bring in new jobs, primarily in new manufacturing or expansion of existing companies, it is also attracting new housing development, with three current projects on the books expected to add an additional 1,000+homes to the area.
Listings provided courtesy of Triangle MLS, Inc. of NC, Internet Data Exchange Database. Information deemed reliable but not guaranteed. © 2022 Triangle MLS, Inc. of North Carolina. Data last updated .