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The Oxford Memorial Library: A Bridge to Chenango County History

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OXFORD, N.Y. -

Fox 40 continues our series to give you an inside look at some of the region's legacy landmarks.

In May, we take you to the Oxford Memorial Library -- which connects back to early history in the Chenango County town.

Library Director Nancy Wilcox showed Fox 40 inside the building with walls bearing stories as rich as the books it now holds.

“Theodore Burr built the house in about 1811. He actually came here in 1792 and in 1794 had built a saw-and-grist mill right out here on the river,” said Wilcox.

On the Chenango River where a prosperous Burr built his federal-style home, he also built Oxford’s first bridge near the start of the 19th century.

“Burr was actually quite famous.  He engineered, designed, and built covered bridges up and down the east coast,” said Wilcox.  

Around 1804, Burr first patented his arch truss bridge design.  Wilcox says this "made covered bridges quite a bit stronger."

Burr’s passion for his arch design can be seen through various parts of the historic library at 8 Fort Hill Park.

“You can see it over the windows, as we go through the building, especially on the ground floor,” said Wilcox.

Evidence of his arch design can still be seen, but officials say Burr’s own bridges have been lost over the years.

“The library is the only remaining structure that was actually built by Theodore Burr,” said Wilcox.

Just as they’ve preserved parts of his home, library officials have preserved elements of his work. The library houses the Theodore Burr Covered Bridge Resource Center.

“What better place to have a resource center on covered bridges,” said Wilcox.

Burr only lived in the home about two years, as he went to work elsewhere.  The building has had several uses since.

“It served as a rectory at one point, and then the Corbin family had it as a residence.  They are the ones who gave it to the Town of Oxford, who in turn created the library in 1900,” said Wilcox.

Burr’s own story came to an end in Pennsylvania in 1822.

“Apparently he was not one of the best business managers in the world, and ended up, sad to say, almost penniless when he did pass away,” said Wilcox.

However, the tales of his successes live on in the Oxford Memorial Library.

Want to check the site out yourself? The library is open Monday through Thursday 9:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., Friday 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. For more information, click here.