RedLife renovation starts on historic Alexander House


Photo by Stella Beerman

The historic Alexander House, 22 N. College Ave., is being remodeled into a church/coffee shop.

By Stella Beerman

Restoration began on the historic Alexander House at 22 N. College Ave., this week after RedLife, an extension of Calvary Church in Springfield, Ohio, purchased it in late November. 

RedLife hopes to complete the renovations around June to open ‘RedLife Coffee and the Alexander House’ in the summer of 2022, followed by ‘Calvary Church- Oxford’ in the fall on the second floor. 

“We just see this as being a great space for both the residents of Oxford and the students to study and connect,” said Tom Ellis, pastor of the church. “The space is very unique, very historic and very comfortable for people to come into.” 

The purchasing process started in Jan. 2021. Ellis had to get approval from Oxford’s Historical Preservation Committee to make changes to the building, as well as City Council to get a conditional use permit to convert it into a church/restaurant, the first such use in the city.

“The restoration of the Alexander House is pretty important to us because it’s an iconic and historic building here in the city,” said Ellis. 

The building, which most recently housed the bar/restaurant, Sushi Nara, has been a fixture in Oxford since the late 1800s when it was known as the town’s medical clinic, according to the Ohio History Connection. It was added to Ohio’s historic register in 1987 and has seen many different businesses before closing its doors for over a year in April 2020. 

Ellis said both the outside and the inside of the building will see significant changes while maintaining the building’s historic authenticity. 

Exterior changes include a fresh coat of paint, a new roof, redoing the woodwork on the front porch, HVAC work and adding some bike racks. Other changes will be made to increase accessibility, including a ramp and exterior elevator lift to the second floor. 

Renovations began on the Alexander House this week and are scheduled to be completed by June. Photo by Stella Beerman 

Significant interior improvements include replacing the bar area with a coffee bar, updating the restrooms and restoring the flooring. RedLife also plans to add a multi-purpose room and a kids’ space on the second floor of the building and restore the balcony for patrons to enjoy more outdoor space. 

“We’re working on a lot of cool stuff, and we’re really looking forward to seeing it come together,” said Ellis. 

RedLife was introduced to Oxford in 2012 when the church conducted a campus ministry for Miami students for about five years, according to Ellis. 

“We kind of fell in love with the city and the university element and just couldn’t get away from it,” said Ellis. “We felt compelled to establish ourselves in the community as a church and as we explored that this other opportunity (the coffee shop) presented itself.” 

While purchasing the building took longer than expected, RedLife and Ellis have been busy at work with other aspects of the business in the meantime. They worked closely with La Terza Coffee in Cincinnati, to create a unique house blend of high-quality, artisan coffee. They’ve also been working on finalizing their website, where they hope to have the coffee for sale before the shop opens. 

Follow @redlifecoffee on Instagram or RedLife Coffee House on Facebook for more information and updates about the opening.