Source: Sherman Publications

Historic Axford home among nine Beautification Awards winners

by CJ Carnacchio

August 03, 2011

One of Oxford Village’s most well-known historic homes now has the distinction of also being one of the community’s most beautiful residences.

Owned by Scott and Kelly Sutphin, the Axford home, located at 73 Hovey Street, was one of nine residential, commercial and municipal properties within the village selected to receive a Beautification Award from the Oxford Beautification Commission (see photos on pages 8 and 11).

“We already love our house,” said Kelly, who’s a 1988 graduate of Oxford High School. “The award just makes it extra special.”

The Sutphins have owned the home since August 1997, but didn’t do most of the renovations until 2001.

“Scott’s a project guy,” Kelly said. “He loves doing stuff like this. He’s one of those people who can see the final outcome.”

When they purchased the home, it was in pretty bad shape both inside and out.

“It was called the haunted house at the end of the street,” Kelly said.

“Looking back, I wish I would have bulldozed it,” joked Scott, a 1977 OHS graduate.

The house was once home to Morgan and May Axford along with their children Hilton, Blythe and Daniel, for whom the elementary school was named following his death at the age of 19. “It’s really neat to own a piece of history,” Scott said.

The Sutphins don’t know the exact year the home was built, but they believe it was sometime in the late 1800s or early 1900s.

“We know that in 1907 they started paying taxes on it,” Kelly said. “Morgan and May moved in after they got married in 1902.”

Originally located at the corner of Mechanic and Crawford streets, the house was moved to its present location when the Axfords donated the property for the school, which was built in 1926.

“That’s why our address doesn’t match the rest of the addresses because it was actually 73 Mechanic,” Kelly noted.

As they restored the home, the Sutphins learned more and more about the Axfords.

“When we started working on the house, we had so many people just stop by and tell us stories about them,” Kelly said. “They sounded like just the most wonderful people to know. During the Depression, Morgan would give bags of groceries to people who showed up at his backdoor.”

Scott noted that longtime village resident Joe Bullen referred to the Axfords as “top-drawer people.”

“They were supposed to be one of the nicest families around,” Scott said.

Hilton Axford, a World War II pilot, lived in the house until his death in December 1996.

The property that now houses the First Baptist Church of Oxford used to consist of a landing strip and hangar for Hilton’s plane.

“There’s actually a story that once upon a time he clipped a car on Drahner Road as he was coming in for a landing and knocked one of his wheels off the plane,” Scott noted.

Scott tried to buy the house for 10 years before his dream was finally realized.

“We liked the location. We love the Village of Oxford,” he said. “We’ve both lived here all our lives and went to school here. We wanted to stay in Oxford.”

Every year he called Blythe to check on the home’s status. Hilton had been promised he could live there until he died.

So eager to own the home were the Sutphins that they ended up purchasing it without ever touring it. “I had never been inside the house before we bought it,” Scott said.

“We bought this pretty much sight unseen,” Kelly said.

Despite the large amount of work that needed to be done, the Sutphins loved much of what they found, from the 100-year-old hardwood floors to the original woodwork.

“I basically like everything old,” Scott said.

They even kept and restored the home’s original bathtub. “Hilton and Blythe remembered taking baths in that when they were kids,” Scott noted.

Both Scott and Kelly agreed that all the time, effort and money they put into restoring the Axford home was ultimately worth it and this Beautification Award is the icing on the cake. The Sutphins, along with all the other Beautification Award winners, will be honored at a special ceremony in October.