Chartered on February 23, 1849, the Oxford Female Institute's original building stood at the corner of College and High streets in Oxford. In 1856, a new three-story building was built to the south and the two buildings were connected by a latticed walkway. By the end of the 1800s, the buildings had been connected with additions for a north wing, library, chapel, and other rooms. In 1928, Miami University acquired the building and remodeled it through architect Robert Harsh who unified the different parts of the building with a Georgian facade. The ballroom, the final addition, was added by Miami University in 1929 with monies raised by the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) in honor of First Lady Caroline Scott Harrison.
Caroline Scott Harrison
Caroline Scott was born in Oxford, OH in 1832. At the age of 20, she graduated from the Oxford Female Institute where her father, the Reverend John Witherspoon Scott, was the first President. She met Benjamin Harrison while he was a college student in Cincinnati. He transferred to Miami in the 1850's and they married in 1853, one year after their graduations. Benjamin Harrison was elected President of the United States in 1888. Caroline Scott Harrison served as the first national DAR President while living in Washington, D.C.
Oxford College for Women
The Oxford Female Institute and the Oxford Female College merged in 1867 and were re-chartered as the Oxford College for Women in 1906. For many years, the local chapter of the DAR met in the ballroom, and that tradition has been recently revived. In 1976, the building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places and listed by its original name--Oxford Female Institute. The building served as a women's dormitory until the mid-1980s when it was used to house graduate students. Miami University closed the building in 1998.
Around the time that the building closed, a group of Oxford citizens came together to both establish an arts center and to preserve the historic building. The Oxford Community Arts Center incorporated in 2001 to save the historic building and repurpose it for use as a community arts center, providing a needed arts space for the adults, families, and children who reside in Oxford and the surrounding areas. The OCAC now serves as a vibrant multi-generational gathering place with classes, performances, workshops, and community engagement events that reach over 13,000 participants annually.
The OCAC provides a home for art entrepreneurs and enduring partners, including:
- 30+ individual studios for artists, writers, and musicians
- Miami University Performing Arts Series
- The Art Shop, a retail cooperative gallery run by local artists featuring a range of artworks in various mediums;
- The Oxford Area Community Theatre (OxACT), a community theatre group, performing since 1980;
- The Caroline Scott Players, a semi-professional theatre company, performing since 2015;
- Flowing Grace School of Dance, which teaches adults, teens, and children ballet, tap, jazz, and contemporary dance
- Daughters of the American Revolution-Caroline Scott Chapter
- Des Fleurs Garden Club
- Oxford Chamber Series