The story of a people can be told through their community, through their lifestyle, culture, history. These necessary and important components of life are seen not just in the people, but in the buildings of the community as well. In Newton County, there have been structures to witness the changes of the county through multiples eras, from the antebellum period to the Great Depression to the Civil Rights Movement to today’s times. There is one home in Newton County that still stands today that has had a front row seat to these moments in time: the Orna Villa. Also known as the Andrews/Means house or the Means/Tanner house, the Orna Villa has come to symbolize all of what makes Newton County a well sought-after location for people looking for a landmark that encompasses all that makes Newton County worthy of visiting.
Built in 1825, the Orna Villa, which is located on Emory Street in the city of Oxford, is styled in the classic Greek architectural design that have come to define many classic homes in the community. In terms of history, one of the most fascinating facts about the site deals with its use during the Civil War. The home was used as a hospital during the battle for soldiers. There’s even a bullet hole located on the stair banister to prove this fact! In other aspects, like the rest of the county, the Orna Villa has deep roots with the film and television industry. Most notably, the home has served as the fraternity house in the popular show The Vampire Diaries. However, the most noteworthy aspect of the home is its stories of hauntings.
The story begins with the family of Alexander Means, a famous resident of the home. Means was a prominent man in the community and a founding father of the Oxford and Oxford College. Maintaining a strong belief in education, his views on life clashed with those of his son Tobe, who wanted to do more traveling instead of schooling. Naturally, there were many arguments between Tobe and Alexander regarding their beliefs. According to lore, after one particularly passionate argument, Tobe stormed away and was never seen again. Thus, the stories of hauntings took root. Legend has it that if you listen closely, you can hear the stomping of Tobe in different parts of the house, maybe the stomping of Tobe remembering the arguments he had with his father. Whether the lore about the Orna Villa hauntings are true or not, they have kept alive a riveting local obsession for centuries.
The Orna Villa has come to symbolize the past, present, and future of Newton County through its combination of Hollywood, history, and hauntings.