Barnard Observatory

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Barnard Observatory
Barnard Observatory.jpg
Front of the observatory
Location Oxford, Mississippi
Coordinates 34°21′58″N 89°32′02″W / 34.366°N 89.534°W / 34.366; -89.534
Established 1857 (1857)
Unnamed Telescope
Barnard Observatory
Barnard Observatory is located in Mississippi
Barnard Observatory
Barnard Observatory is located in the US
Barnard Observatory
Location University of Mississippi campus, Oxford, Mississippi
Coordinates 34°21′58″N 89°32′4″W / 34.36611°N 89.53444°W / 34.36611; -89.53444Coordinates: 34°21′58″N 89°32′4″W / 34.36611°N 89.53444°W / 34.36611; -89.53444
Area less than one acre
Built 1857
Architectural style Greek Revival
NRHP Reference # 78001607[1]
Added to NRHP December 8, 1978

Barnard Observatory was a U.S. astronomical observatory owned and operated by University of Mississippi in Oxford, Mississippi. Completed in 1859, it was part of the astronomy focus that chancellor Frederick A.P. Barnard had for the school.[2] Due to the outbreak of the Civil War, though, the purchase of the observatory's telescopes were put on hold. Today the observatory houses the Center for the Study of Southern Culture while the university's astronomers use Kennon Observatory.[3]


The observatory is a Greek Revival design and modeled after the observatory in Pulkovo, Russia.[4] Chancellor Barnard commissioned a northern company to build the telescope.[4] The telescope was designed to be larger than the observatories in Pulokovo and Harvard.[4] However, due to the Civil War, the observatory ended up going to Dearborn Observatory at Northwestern University.[4]

When the Civil War started, the university closed down for the duration of the war. Due to Oxford's vicinity to much of the war, many buildings in town and on campus were utilized by forces, including the observatory which served as a hospital.[4] In addition, Chancellor Barnard, a northerner, resigned and left Oxford. However, it was the former chancellor's relationship with General William Tecumseh Sherman that spared both the observatory and the university from Union troops burning it down. Writing to Chancellor Barnard, General Sherman explained his reasoning for sparing the observatory.

"I assure you that last November, when I rode through the grounds of the College and Oxford, I thought of you and.... thought I saw the traces of your life in the Observatory, of which I remember you spoke...."

— General William Tecumseh Sherman

In addition to the observatory's use as a hospital, it has also been home to the Department of Physics and Astronomy, the Department of Naval Sciences, the chancellor's home, and the Alpha Xi Delta sorority.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ National Park Service (2009-03-13). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 
  2. ^ "The Barnard Observatory". University of Mississippi. Archived from the original on 2006-09-10. Retrieved 2006-12-27. 
  3. ^ "Barnard Observatory Homepage". Barnard Observatory. Archived from the original on November 14, 2005. Retrieved December 14, 2005. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f National Register of Historic Places, Barnard Observatory, Oxford, Lafayette, Mississippi, National Register #78001607