History of the Oxford Institute
In 1848, Ebenezer Pierce Hinds founded the Oxford Normal Institute in South Paris, Maine and became its first Administrator and Principal. The first building was completed in 1849 at 10 Market Place, South Paris. The name is derived form Oxford County, Paris, being the County Seat and largest town in the county.
The Oxford Normal Institute was a “secondary school” along the same lines as a community college today. Students graduated from one-room schoolhouses and then some went on to secondary school. Thus, the Oxford Normal Institute, and it’s current incarnations, has been an anchor of community life in Paris for over 171 years.
When Ebenezer founded the Oxford Normal Institute in 1848, it had six teachers since he had been networking with teachers from Norway. Prior to 1848, Ebenezer had been the Principal at the Norway Liberal Institute but was unhappy there as he felt the clientele was too uppity. Ebenezer considered himself a normal everyday guy and preferred the down-to-earth folks of Paris, Maine. Ebenenezer, the oldest of his father’s 8 children, was educated at Harvard University and graduated in 1844 with a degree in Teaching.
The newspaper of the Oxford Normal Institute was called the Esthetica, and took on a life of its own. While it started as the official school newspaper, the student journalists started covering town events until regular townspeople were buying it as well.
The brick version of the Oxford Normal Institute was built over the same spot as the original school in 1883. It was expanded significantly in 1940 to the building that remains today. The Oxford Institute has also been referred to as the Brick School (after the 1940 expansion), and as the “Fox School” (1967) to honor longtime principal Mildred M. Fox.
In 2008, the Oxford Institute was purchased by Oxford Hills Christian and was dedicated to our Lord Jesus Christ. This changed it’s purpose to focus on “Those things above.” In 2016, Oxford Hills Christian moved to it’s current address in the Town of Oxford where it is today.
In 2019, the Oxford Institute was split off from Oxford Hills Christian and incorporated on its own as a 501c3 nonprofit dedicated to college level education. The Oxford Institute retains its commitment in service to Christ with it’s moto: “Pro gloria dei, ut elevent pro,” which means, “For the glory of God I rise to serve.”