Blake Tartt Preserves Oxford History One Building at a Time

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“My projects in Oxford are all really a labor of love,” Blake Tartt, owner and president of NRP-Oxford, said.

NRP-Oxford has remodeled several buildings in Oxford as well as built new buildings. They developed the Starbucks and Mattress Firm building on West Jackson Avenue and remodeled the old Renasant Bank building on Van Buren Avenue where Hemline is today. They also remodeled the building located at 400 Lamar Blvd., where Holli’s Sweet Tooth and Full Motion Running and Cycling are located.

Of course there are many more to name, but of all that NRP-Oxford has done to help Oxford, perhaps one of the more interesting projects they have pursued is the remodeling of 1001 East Jackson Ave., just off of the Square.

Where Mesquite Chop House is now located lies a building that has been in Oxford for several years.

“There are many different rumors running around about the Mesquite Chop House building,” Tartt said. “What is reality and what is myth, I’m not 100 percent sure. What I do know is that it was the telephone company.”

Although it has yet to be validated, Tartt said he has heard rumors that the building was, at one time, one of the original jails in Oxford.

“It was a law office at some point, and we’re told that John Grisham used to office there when it was a law office,” Tartt said. “I believe that to be true.”

Will Guest, a real estate broker in Oxford, told Tartt about the 1001 East Jackson Ave. building.

“The minute I saw the building, I thought it was beautiful,” Tartt said. “I’m a big believer in historic preservation, and the minute I saw the building, I knew it was a restaurant location.”

Tartt saw potential to preserve this building and to make it so much more because of how much room he would have to add to it.

“The basement has been totally renovated, and we put French drains in,” Tartt said. “We spent close to a million dollars rehabbing the building.”

Tartt said they built an entirely new kitchen, new bathrooms, repaired the bricks on the exterior, repaired the façade, waterproofed the basement and added a patio.

“There was massive amounts of time and money spent,” Tartt said. “It probably took seven months longer than we thought to renovate the building and bring it to what you see today.”

Tartt said the most important thing to him in the renovation of 1001 East Jackson Ave. is that other renovators will be encouraged to develop and update their projects.

“I feel that we will have been successful if others who own property around the Square will take the time and spend the money to upgrade their properties,” Tartt said. “Hopefully this spurs more quality development because historic preservation is so important. It is important to have well-done, properly restored buildings on the Square and in the Square District.”

Tartt, who lives in Houston, Texas, fell in love with Oxford from the first time he arrived in the spring of 1980.

“I do my business in Houston, but my heart is in Oxford,” Tartt said. “It is one of the most beautiful places in the world. I would rather go to Oxford than anywhere in the world. There is no place I like better.”