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It may seem odd to call a town of 23,000 a cultural destination. But Oxford, Mississippi, is indeed a place of deep and enduring culture. Square Books, which opened on the historic courthouse square in 1979, is one of the nation’s top booksellers. Vishwesh Bhatt, an Indian immigrant at the helm of Oxford’s Snackbar, was a 2018 James Beard finalist for Best Chef in the South.
Named after the university town of Oxford, England, this north-central Mississippi town was founded in 1837 by three men who wanted to establish a site for the state’s first higher-learning institution. Now, more than 175 years later, Oxford is home to the University of Mississippi (colloquially known as Ole Miss), as well as a rich cultural and literary history.