Oswego’s municipal population was just shy of 1,500 in 1960, shortly before Roger Matile, Museum Director of the Little White School House, graduated from what would become known as ‘the old Oswego High School.’ Fast forward to today, Oswego sits at a population of over 30,000, with commercial and transportation expansion continuing to reflect the fast-growing community.
Matile, who has been witness to the rise of Oswego for the last 60 years, says the increased commercial development only adds to the downtown district’s preserved historical and cultural charm, creating the foundation of community so many ‘Oswego-ians’ pride their hometown on. This only confirms an appreciation for what Matile calls the long-lasting ‘trend’ of community-oriented town-centers.
What is exciting, according to Matile, is the ‘best of both worlds’ factor that residents get when living in a village like Oswego.
“Each person has their own, smaller ‘community’ that they revolve around”, says Matile. These can include the particular school one’s children attend, the subdivision they live in, or the types of shops they prefer to get their favorite goods and services from around town.
Yet what on the surface is seen as emblematic of small-town living all feed into a larger awareness that residents have a variety of publics and groups they belong to within their larger community of Oswego. Living in Oswego allows one to harbor intimate social niches while also reaping the benefits of a village that offers a variety of retail, dining, entertainment, and educational resources and services.
Every resident, long-time or newly minted, develops a corner of their own—to gather for events, to take a class, to grab a coffee, to watch a show, to play with their kids or walk their dog. These communities are strengthened by the fellowship that is created there, along with the sense of belonging that all have under the greater Oswego roof.
It is this value of family, friendship, and community that Matile says makes Oswego special—makes it the place to live and grow.
For Leslie Anderson, her Churchill Club neighborhood is where her and her family relish in Oswego’s community within a community feel.
“[Churchill Club] has [its] own Facebook page where others are always reaching out to help one another…We love our clubhouse pool and the activities they set up throughout the year…a family can stay very busy! There’s always something for everyone to enjoy.”
The Churchill clubhouse offers activities year-round, including Cookies with Santa, Fall Fest, Breakfast with the Easter Bunny, movie nights, and the annual ‘Blues on Barton’ 5k event followed by a block party that helps families in the subdivision who are in need. Needless to say, there exists both civic fun and support built into what Anderson, the Gifted Education teacher at Churchill and Fox Chase Elementary Schools, calls her “little community.”
For this writer, a prized favorite for years has always been the nooks and crannies of The Village Grind. The coffee and tea center has retained its intimate and inviting feel even as its menu and services have shifted and grown. It has served as the destination for a summer bike ride downtown with friends to grab a chilled drink to the gathering spot of that same company years later when the leaves have changed and the wind picked up. Having a spot that feels like yours is a sure sign that you’re part of a community.
So we want to know—where’s YOUR corner? What is your go-to spot, your haven of a community that reminds you that living in Oswego is the absolute best? Share this article and share your #HometownHub on either Facebook or Instagram, and don’t forget to tag us @GoOswego.