The Jefferson, Oxford’s newest wedding/event venue, is turning heads in its first year. There’s a reason for that.
BY ALEX MCDANIEL
PHOTOS BY ANN-MARIE WYATT, KARLA POUND & BETH HONTZAS
When Tom Green first conceptualized The Jefferson, Oxford’s newest wedding/event venue, he took just about everything imaginable into consideration. Green’s three daughters, all Chi Omegas at Ole Miss, would tell him about events they attended and how there just didn’t seem to be a spot that could fit everyone without dealing with logistical problems or crowded spaces.
“We started playing with the idea that there might be a need (in Oxford) for something bigger,” Green says.
What began in concept as a 9,000 square-foot space evolved over time, opening in 2016 as an 18,000 square-foot lakefront venue sitting on 90 acres a few miles outside of Oxford proper.
For Green, who co-owns The Jefferson with his sister, Margie Schloesser, the design concept came to him in pieces, a collection of ideas and moments of inspiration that helped him conceptualize how to build something that could accommodate just about any event while maintaining a rustic feel rooted in elegance and authenticity.
“A lot of it was thinking about my daughters and my wife,” Green says. “If they had a ceremony out here, how could we make it a perfect day?”
The size alone makes for a lot to take in when touring the facilities. But at the core of The Jefferson’s construction, and likely a big draw for event planners, are in the details.
At first glance, the Grand Hall, the Jefferson’s largest room, looks relatively straightforward in its construction with clean lines, large windows and column-less open space. Look closer, and you’ll see how Green’s attention to detail comes through. Built-in wooden benches line the walls to offer additional seating space without clutter. The large stage at the end of the hall sits beneath an archway, an idea inspired by a Hallmark movie Green watched with his wife.
To avoid a common party problem in which rooms filled with people tend to warm up quickly, Green installed eight individual air conditioning units in the hall, blowing 40 tons of air into the room and serving as multiple layers of back-up in case one of the units were to go out during an event.
Even behind the scenes lies impressive intentional design. There are a private room and bathroom located near the stage for musicians and bands to retreat without having to cut through the crowd. Green installed a large ladies restroom with eight toilets to minimize long lines. The bridal parlor is equipped with wall-to-wall mirrors, a tall chair for the bride so hair and makeup stylists can work comfortably, and outlets connected to separate breakers to accommodate a larger number of tools like blow dryers and curling irons.
Of course, there are a handful of things Green’s team didn’t foresee during construction. One example: An event held in January that overwhelmed the venue’s 200-coat closet.
“We had over 400 mink coats,” Green says, laughing.
That prompted Green to install a back door in the closet that connects to a conference room. This allows for overflow coats to be hung on racks and rolled into the adjoining space.
There’s an authenticity to The Jefferson’s vintage aesthetic due to Green’s longtime interest in salvage and restoration. The large, sturdy front doors came from the classroom of an old school building in Henderson, Tennessee. The restored chandeliers suspended in the Grand Hall were originally broken-down light fixtures a church in Memphis no longer wanted. The pine floors are from a textile mill in Virginia. The railing around the lake was crafted from an old guardrail that once lived on Highway 309.
A subtle touch can be found in the brick walls and walkways within the venue and outside: thousands of reclaimed bricks made by the short- lived Oxford Brick and Tile Co.—all engraved with the town’s name.
“We put them everywhere because this is Oxford and we should show everyone what we have here,” Green says. “This is our town.”
There are two other main rooms in The Jefferson, all freely flowing into the others to make for a larger event space or to provide options for people who want to hold smaller events at the venue. There’s also a back porch and plenty of seating by the lake for guests who want to break away from the main event to be alone or have a conversation with others away from the festivities.
Looking toward the future, Green hopes to add a garden for planting herbs and spices—a helpful addition for caterers like Elizabeth Heiskell, who’s working out of the Jefferson and has catered events in the space. Eventually, he’d even like to build cabins on the property, ideally as a lodging option for guests traveling to attend one of The Jefferson’s events, should the hosts want a more all-inclusive experience.
“You can have a destination wedding—maybe overseas or on a secluded island somewhere, and that’s great,” he says. “But Oxford is a place where people always want to come back after they’ve graduated.”
- Storybook Wedding: Alston & Katie Love Owen
- A snapshot of how The Jefferson transformed its 18,000 square feet of space into one couple’s dream wedding day.
- Oxford Floral
- Elizabeth Heiskell Catering
- Details Specialty Rentals
- My Michelle’s, Bar Consultant
- Cobra Security, Security and Valet Parking
- Ferriday McClatchey, event planner