The Oxford Historical Society announced the Twitchell-Rowland Homestead will be open to the public on Sunday, December 4, from 1 to 3 p.m. The Society’s “First Look,” in October had to be cut short because of the snowstorm, and residents have asked for a second opportunity to view the homestead. The building is listed in the Connecticut Register of Historic Places. The Society has renovated the first floor of the building for use as a local history educational center and museum.
The "Open House" will feature a tour of the first floor, photos of volunteers working on the homestead and videos of the house moving down Towner Lane. In addition to the exhibits displayed at the “First Look,” visitors can view a miniature Christmas Village set up by Society President Louise Burr. As the Society's expression of gratitude for the community support, admission at the "First Look" will be free.
The Twitchell-Rowland Homestead was built in the 1750s by Joseph Twitchell. It remained in the family for many generations. It was later owned by a variety of farm families. The Rowland family purchased the farm in the early 1900s. Eventually, Manuel Moutinho's Mark IV Construction company acquired the property. He developed the property, now known as Glendale. When preparing to develop the land, the decision was made to demolish the homestead.
Through the willingness of Moutinho to allow the historical society to move the homestead, and the generosity of Fred and Myrtle Rowland to donate land on Towner Lane for the house, demolition was avoided.
The Town of Oxford supplied half the cost of the approximately $60,000 spent on moving day, and the rest was raised through private donations, grants, and society fund-raising.
The actual moving of the homestead was on Sept. 28, 2006, thanks to the cooperation of CL&P, Valley Cable, and SNET whose crews worked together to raise and lower all the utility wires to allow the move. The house went three-tenths of a mile from its original location to 60 Towner Lane. There it was placed in a trench that had been prepared by volunteers Robbie Robinson and Fred Schiavi, with help from Donnie Rich and Ronald Stebar.
The movers left the house on I-beams supported by blocks. The Society hired two restoration carpenters to install new sills. Thanks to the donation of thousands of dollars worth of concrete and concrete blocks, plus the volunteer labor of mason Gary Pelletier, the foundation was raised under the homestead. The final removal of the I-beams was accomplished on June 1, 2007.
Since that date, members of the Society and volunteers from the community have devoted hundreds of hours, painting, repairing and renovating the homestead to bring it up to current fire and building code requirements. Girl Scouts and Master Gardeners have worked on the period-appropriate garden in front of the homestead. Boy Scouts worked together on Jay Ernst’s Eagle project to install an accessible ramp. The Society has benefited through donations of money and material from over 500 Oxford residents to prepare the homestead as Oxford's first museum. Major grants from the Valley Community Foundation, the Naugatuck Savings Bank Foundation, and the Katherine Matthies Foundation greatly helped the project.