OXFORD – The iconic Washington Park gazebo (across from the Bida Home) or “Pagoda” as it’s often called, is part of Oxford’s history. Like a well dressed Best Man at a wedding, the beloved gazebo has held many brides and grooms with elegance on their special days. Unfortunately, the extensive renovation that was done in the 1980’s had slowly given way, and it was suffering the ravages of time. The Pagoda needed help, and thanks to an Oxford family business, Sue and Bob Birdsall of Birdsall Painting Service, the historic charm has, once again, been restored.
For the past few years, the Oxford Historical Society had been trying to come up with an estimated $10-15,000 to overhaul the pagoda. Some of the difficulty stemmed from the fact that the structure dates back to 1876 and it’s completely custom designed requiring the special skills of an experienced builder. Replacing the hand-fashioned, graceful bell shaped, metal roof was a major factor when contractors gave their quotes. Keeping everything historically accurate, as the Oxford Revitalization Project, Inc. did some 30 years ago, was also a premier requirement. Time was running out as the 136 year-old building was declining rapidly.
Bob Birdsall also saw that the pagoda was in dire condition. This prompted him, his wife, Susan, and their family to want to perform a public service. Bob contacted the Oxford Historical Society (OHS) president, Fred Lanfear, with an alternative proposal to the costly carpentry. Bob suggested they could replace a ceiling truss, repair rotted areas with Bondo filler, and prime and repaint it, matching the historic colors. The gazebo would look good, be safe, and be serviceable for a few more years. They would donate their time if the OHS would provide the materials. The OHS happily agreed.