Lyceum-The Circle Historic District
Lyceum-The Circle Historic District
|Location||University Circle, Oxford, Mississippi|
|Area||10 acres (40,000 m2)|
|Architectural style||Neoclassical Revival|
|Governing body||State of Mississippi|
|NRHP Reference #||08001092|
|Added to NRHP||October 7, 2008|
|Designated NHLD||October 7, 2008|
The Lyceum-The Circle Historic District is a historic district in Oxford, Mississippi that includes eight buildings and several monuments lining University Circle which surrounds "The Circle" on the campus of the University of Mississippi. The university was established as the flagship institution of the state and generations of leading families' sons and daughters studied here.
The district is significant for its association with the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s, led by African Americans, and for the increasing role the Federal government took to enforce change. In Mississippi there was both official and informal resistance to court-ordered desegregation of the university in the fall of 1962. The confrontation resulted in intervention by the Federal government to protect the safety of citizens. Ole Miss was integrated by the enrollment of James H. Meredith on October 1, 1962, which was followed by riots. The disturbances took place following court decisions for integration of public institutions, during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. It was designated a U.S. National Historic Landmark on October 7, 2008, although this may not have been announced publicly until October 14.
Elements of the District
Located at the center of the Ole Miss campus, the district contains eight academic buildings arranged on University Circle which encompasses an interior common area dubbed "The Circle," a historic site in the district. The eight buildings include the Lyceum Building, the Old Chemistry Building, the Croft Institute for International Studies (known as the "Y" Building at the time of desegregation and earlier as the "Old Chapel"), and Carrier, Shoemaker, Ventress, Bryant, and Peabody dormitory halls. The district also includes the flagpole in the center of The Circle, the Confederate Monument in The Circle, and University Circle.
In the university's early days, the Lyceum Building was the only academic structure, housing a lecture hall, several classrooms, the faculty offices, a geological museum, and the library. The Lyceum is now the home of the university's administration offices, and its columned facade is represented on the official crest of the university, along with the date of establishment. Built in 1848 to the designs of architect William Nichols, the building is the oldest on campus, dating back to its foundation.
The Circle is surrounded by University Circle, a road designed for one-way traffic. The area contains oak and magnolia trees, pansies, and green grass. A metal flagpole stands at the center of the green and serves as a hub for the sidewalk paths through the area. Since the mid nineteenth century, The Circle has been the focal point and historic core of the Ole Miss campus.
The flagpole has stood in the center of The Circle since 1962. Its brick base was constructed in 2000. During the famous desegregation riots, a former Ole Miss football player climbed the pole in an effort to attract rioters' attention and convince them to go home.
Occupying the same position in The Circle since 1906, the Confederate Monument contains a sub-column fashioned in the likeness of a castle containing the inscription "To Our Confederate Dead, 1861-1865, Albert Sidney Johnston Chapter 379 U.D.C." and a Confederate soldier looking off into the distance with a rifle at his side. It is often jokingly referred to by the Ole Miss and Oxford communities as the "second place trophy."
Old Chemistry Building
The Old Chemistry Building, now designated as Brevard Hall, was built in 1923. During the desegregation riots on September 30, 1962, students broke into the building and aimed Molotov cocktail bombs at federal and civilian vehicles parked around The Circle.
Carrier Hall was one of several buildings students searched for riot material in 1962. Branching off from the two-story main section is a rear section connected by two covered passageways. This section also contains two stories and is slightly inset and setback from the main section.
During the 1962 riots, four-story Shoemaker Hall was under construction, and students used construction materials including loose bricks, metal conduit pipes, and a bulldozer to attack federal officers. The dorm hall was the site of one of the two fatalities associated with the riots.
The Croft Institute for International Studies, known as the "Y" Building at the time of desegregation and earlier as the Old Chapel, harbored many people escaping the tear gas and the general melee in 1962. Others crowded into the Y to watch United States President John F. Kennedy's televised speech regarding the desegregation of Ole Miss.
After housing the university's library from 1911 to 1952, Bryant Hall has been home to the Fine Arts Center and the departments of Philosophy, Religion, and Classics. During the riots, much of the battle was fought in front of the hall.
- "Interior Designates 16 New National Historic Landmarks". D.O.I. News Release. U.S. Department of the Interior. 2008-10-14. Retrieved 2008-10-16.
- Gene Ford and Susan Cianci Salvatore (2007-01-23). PDF (32 KB). National Park Service.
- "Virtual Tours - University of Mississippi". University of Mississippi. Retrieved 2008-07-11.