Updated: Jun 1, 2019
Written by Ginny McCarley | Photographed by Joe Worthem
Homes in this post-WWII development have undergone facelifts to add contemporary appeal while maintaining old-fashioned charm.
Tucked amid mature trees and situated along wide, quiet streets, the homes in Avent Acres have an undeniable charm in an incredible location.
Four streets — Williams, Sisk, Combs and Chandler — combine to make up Avent Acres, one of Oxford’s most popular neighborhoods. The development was constructed by Wallace E. Johnson, a builder from Memphis, in conjunction with Thomas Edison Avent. Platted in 1950 and built primarily to appeal to soldiers returning from World War II, the homes in Avent Acres had two primary floor plans and were all priced under $4,000, which was the maximum guarantee for the VA loan program at the time.
Despite what you may have heard, though the houses were built from prefabricated parts, they are not Sears homes, said Oxford City Historic Preservationist Kate Kenwright.
Today, some homes in Avent Acres sell for nearly 100 times their original value, and many residents of the close-knit neighborhood are working hard to make their homes unique while honoring the compelling history of the area.
213 SISK AVENUE
The generous front porch of Rob and Kate Forester’s home is lined with vintage bricks sourced from the Delta, and large trees provide perfect shade for family picnics in the front yard when the weather is nice.
Though the Foresters moved in post-renovation, the home was completely remodeled with a new addition in 2007, including a master suite and a new chimney.
For Kate Forester, the best part of the neighborhood is the location. “Access to [Avent] park is great, and we love that it is walkable to Bramlett,” Forester said.
215 SISK AVENUE
Angel Carney saw her cozy home on Sisk Avenue before it even hit the market, thanks to a friend in real estate, and she instantly knew she had to buy it.
“We fell in love with it,” said Carney, who shares the house with her mom, Leverne Scott. “They never even put it up for sale. We saw it and were sold.”
Carney and Scott live in Memphis, but they come back to Oxford for nearly every sporting event — an obsession that Carney likes to reflect in the outdoor decor. In the spring, a baseball wreath hangs on the door, but Carney changes them out depending on the season.
“We try to decorate for all the sports,” Carney said.
The porch, with exposed wood and beadboard adding natural elements, is perfect for the family: two white rocking chairs provide a relaxing spot to spend a nice day, while a custom porch gate ensures that their black lab, Bessie, can enjoy the fresh air too.
204 WILLIAMS AVENUE
Christian Leask and Carmen Sanchez have lived in their sage green cottage on Williams Avenue for four years, and they love how quiet and peaceful the home is, while still being easily accessible to downtown Oxford.
The house was renovated in 2006 by Parker Wood Construction LLC, a firm that completed a number of high-end home renovations in the area.
The couple has worked on making the beautiful cottage, which was a rental in questionable shape at the time of their purchase, their own “ever so slowly,” Sanchez said.
311 SISK AVENUE
Mike Magee moved into his home on Sisk nearly two years — and a complete renovation — after purchasing the property.
“We took it from the original footprint, completely gutted it and reconfigured it and added onto it a little bit,” Magee said.
The only thing that wasn’t changed much were the unique cedar shingles on the exterior of the home, which Magee kept since they were in good shape.
“I liked the way they looked,” Magee said. “It did look pretty unique.”
Though he kept much of the front the same, Magee added a wide and welcoming front porch and brick stairs, as well as a large back deck where he likes to relax.
For Magee, buying a home in the neighborhood was a choice that made sense.
“It’s close to the Square and was a good investment,” Magee said. “It just seemed like a good thing to do.”
217 SISK AVENUE
Mary Miller and Lucky Tucker finished renovations on their house, known around town as “the red house on Sisk,” in 2010, just one year after they purchased the home. The renovation included a major restructuring that added needed space, making the home “bigger, but not too big,” Tucker said.
Though they gutted many parts of the inside of the home, the couple carefully preserved the original telephone cubby, once a necessity, that was a feature of all the Avent Acres homes.
It’s the third home the couple has renovated in this neighborhood, which they love for its proximity to the Square, wide streets, walkability and diversity.
They plan to repaint the home — though they will keep it the same warm red — and add a fence to their corner lot.
“It’s still a project all these years later,” Tucker said.