From its historic beginnings to tailgating traditions, Oxford, Mississippi’s Southern heritage is as rich as the personalities who have passed through the town. Known for its most important asset, the University of Mississippi, Oxford is home to students for at least four years, though many return each fall as football season begins. As a city populated by numerous students, Oxford is overflowing with apartments and houses to accommodate its young residents. Combining functionality with style is not always an easy task. However, builder Brian Hill created a condo that would provide his daughter with all desired aspects of student living. Providing 2,500 square feet of indoor space and 350 outdoors, the condo is home to Meagan and her roommates. Built in 2012, the condo in Provence Park is minutes from campus and has a shuttle that services to and from campus and the square on weekends. Though other condos and apartments feature similar conveniences, one aspect was missing. “There were no other condos that featured reclaimed materials like we used,” says Brian Hill, the builder of the condo and Meagan Hill’s father. “I’ve seen places that used one or two pieces [that were reclaimed] but not as many as we wanted to incorporate.”
As a contractor, Brian is familiar with finding reclaimed materials, including wood and bricks that were used in historic buildings throughout Mississippi and Tennessee. “In the outdoor patio and entry hall, we used old hand-hewn beams from a Federal Cotton Compress in Covington, Tennessee,” he says. “I love the old charm of Oxford and I wanted to use a lot of old materials like the French Quarter.” The old world enchantment carries from the beams on the ceilings, to the handcrafted kitchen island and the bricks on the patio. Bricks, from Oxford Brick and Tile, open from 1905 to 1911, line the walls of the outdoor patio. Three bricks imprinted with “Oxford” show their origin from the local company. One of the most frequented spaces in the condo, the outdoor patio, features modern appliances alongside pieces that reflect Oxford’s heritage. An outdoor fireplace, built-in barbecue and swing provide a comfortable place for friends and families to gather. Whether a Monday night studying for an exam on the swing, or a Saturday spent preparing for the game, the space is an inviting place to gather. The popularity of the outdoor patio, the creation of Brian, has led many other condo owners to request a similar retreat.
While Brian has recreated similar condos for others in the neighborhood, none are quite as authentic and historical as his family’s. One of the most exceptional pieces in the condo, the kitchen island, draws its materials from its Mississippi roots. The island, the workmanship of Dr. Jason Coleman in Hernando, is the most treasured accent in the condo. “Dr. Coleman enjoys woodworking, and we wanted him to build an island for the kitchen. When the Gatekeeper’s Lodge, directly across from Faulkner’s house and one of a few not burned down in the Civil War, was remodeled, we got some of the wood from home.” Dr. Coleman then crafted the one-of-a-kind island to fit the condo’s dimensions. But the furnishing far exceeds its original purpose as a place to prepare for tailgates and dinners with friends. The focal point of the home has become topic of conversation, as a piece of art and history, says Brian. “We know the home was built in 1841 so the tree was cut then. But we can tell by the growth rings that the tree had been growing from the 1700 or 1600s.”
The Hills’ aspiration to emulate the old style of building, as well as the beauty of Oxford’s past, continued into the living area. Aside from their Oxford ties and passion for all things Ole Miss, the family spends any free time at the beach. Whether relaxing on the boat or deep-sea fishing, the Hills find solace by the water. When the condo was nearly furnished, lacking only pieces on either side of the fireplace, their passion for water came to mind. Inspired by the beach and proximity to the Mississippi River, Debbie gathered driftwood to be incorporated into the home. She discovered mirrors, framed by driftwood, on Pinterest and began pieces to enhance and outline the bricked fireplace. “They were inspired by the beach but they really go with the house,” Brian says. “A lot of driftwood goes down the Mississippi River into the Gulf. So while we got it from the beach, it could have come from the Oxford area.” The attention to detail and fine craftsmanship the family employed in the home has allowed the condo to take on a revitalized view into the past. “We were truly trying to make something that is brand new, with modern and contemporary conveniences, look old.” From details only a historian or builder may notice, such as door casings and trim work, to larger structures like the wooden beams, the Hills overlooked no element in recreating the past. “We wanted it to look like homes a hundred years ago. The trim was done like homes a long time ago and the cabinets we used weren’t the raised panel style that is more contemporary.”
Having all elements of a traditional Oxford home a century ago, the condo looks as if it had been designed from an old photograph and the Hills hope that the condo will continue to create memories well into the next century. “We hope that Lexi will live there next year. We want to keep it in the family; we love it for game days.”
But there is one more family member that would certainly be disappointed were they to sell the condo. Swayze, a goldendoodle and graduation present to Meagan, has his own space built into the condo. Located underneath the stairs is a gated room specifically invented for Swayze. Named for the Ole Miss baseball field, Swayze is living proof of the family’s die-hard love for their team. “My favorite space is probably Swayze’s ‘room,’” says Meagan. “I think it’s really cute and he loves to lay in there.”
While Swayze may find happiness inside his room, his owner, Meagan, is happiest on the patio. “I think something that really makes my condo different is the patio. I know my friends are always wanting to come over, grill and just hang out outside.” Her vibrant personality and love for socializing is also depicted in Meagan’s personal style. On the porch hangs a window painted with the famous “Hotty Toddy” chant, which was ingrained in the Hill girls at an early age. Meagan used the reclaimed window as a canvas and visible sign of her devotion to her school and tradition. From handmade pieces to those bought in the Oxford area, the Hill women combined the Ole Miss theme and Meagan’s own style to achieve the décor. “We decorated with a lot of red and blue to keep it festive and Ole Miss-looking. The glass cabinets show off the Ole Miss platters and trays used on game days. The condo is really fun and exciting and matches Meagan’s style.” Whether a home for their daughters during college or a weekend getaway, the condo is sure to continue to serve as a visible reminder of the Hills’ love for the city of Oxford and Ole Miss.
‘Hotty Toddy’ all the Way Home
Reflecting the Southern elegance of Oxford, Miss. and the rich tradition of Ole Miss, Meagan Hill’s condo is rooted in history and charm.
Story By Lindsee Gentry | Photos by Terry Sweeney