60 TOWNER LANE
ca. 1755 (1976 #122, WPA #36)
This traditional saltbox was built on Christian Street facing the intersection of Towner Lane by an early and prominent resident, Joseph Twitchell. He and his wife, Elizabeth, erected what is now the Twitchell-Rowland Homestead about 1755 using virgin timber from their land.
The structure was inherited first by Joseph and Elizabeth Twitchell’s son, Wooster, then by his son, Ebenezer, and finally, by the fourth generation of the family to live in the dwelling, Jeremy Hull Twitchell. After that, the Homestead passed out of the hands of the Twitchell family, later becoming the home and farm of D. C. Riggs, a selectman and leader in the Oxford Agricultural Society in the 1870s.
The house next belonged to Owen Buckingham who operated a meat and butchering business there, supplying homes and stores in Oxford, Seymour, and vicinity with fresh beef, pork, lamb, and poultry. Eventually, the property was purchased on December 18, 1900, by Philip and Elizabeth (Bronson) Rowland from Gordon and Abigail Crofut. Their farm became one of the first to be approved to supply milk to the creamery when it was established in Southbury.
Philip and Elizabeth’s son, Edward P. Rowland, continued the family farm. He was active in Oxford government having served as selectman in 1929–30. Edward was a charter member of the Oxford Grange and a Master of the Grange early in its history. He also served on the committee that established Boy Scout Troop #1 in Oxford. When he died, his wife, Alfaretta, rented the farm, and when she died, the family sold it. The house then passed through several owners, including Mark Oczkowski who operated a nursery on the premises.
When Manuel Moutinho’s Mark IV Construction Company acquired the farm for development, the once proud house stood empty, derelict and threatened with demolition. In 2004, the Oxford Historical Society voted to raise the funds to move the old home to property on Towner Lane generously donated by Fred and Myrtle Rowland. The Town of Oxford supplied half the cost of the approximately $60,000 spent on moving the structure. The rest was raised through private donations, grants, and Society fund-raising.
On September 28, 2006, lifted on I-beams and pulled by a truck, the house left the foundation on Christian Street where it had rested for 250 years and trundled three-tenths of a mile down Towner Lane, escorted by Society members and neighbors. There it was placed over a trench that would later become the museum cellar.
At this point, over 500 donors, volunteers, local foundations, contractors, businesses and organizations have helped to restore the building. On May 5 and 6, 2012, the Oxford Historical Society proudly opened the Twitchell-Rowland Homestead’s doors as our town’s first museum. Today, visitors are invited to admire the original chestnut beams, floorboards and paneling, and to enjoy the historical displays and programs offered for education and pleasure.