Built in 1889, Ventress Hall is a testament to the University of Mississippi's original Victorian architecture and has served as the home of many departments over the centuries. It was first the university library. It then served as the home of the School of Law from 1911 until 1929, when it was utilized by the State Geological Survey. Starting in 1963, it became the Department of Geology, and in the 1970s, the Department of Art. The College of Liberal Arts has been housed in the historic building since 1998.
Backstory and Context
Ventress Hall is part of the campus of the University of Mississippi. Built in 1889, the building maintains the university's original Victorian architecture. During its lifetime, the building has served many different purposes and housed multiple university departments. Originally used as space for the library, the building then served as the School of Law, Department of Geology, and Department of Art & Art History before becoming the College of Liberal Arts in 1998. In 1993, the state legislature gave the university $1 million for the improvement and restoration of Ventress Hall. The building reopened in 1998 as the College of Liberal Arts.
There are several unique features that make Ventress Hall an important historic building. The first is a wall of graffiti located inside the building. During the School of Law's early years in the hall, student graffiti began appearing on the interior walls of Ventress Hall, primarily inside the building's turret. When the building was restored in the 1990s, this artwork was preserved for future students to observe. The graffiti on the wall signifies centuries of memories, beginning with a Civil War veteran from Arkansas who inscribed his name and military unit at the top of the tower. Many students followed this example, leaving names and markings throughout the following years.
Another prized building feature is the Tiffany stained glass window located above the main staircase. It is a memorial to the University Greys, a Civil War company that was composed primarily of students form the University of Mississippi. All members of this company were killed, wounded, or captured, leading many today to honor their sacrifices. A plaque commemorating the University Greys and contextualizing the Tiffany Window was added in 2018. According to the university's webpage on Ventress Hall,
"a memorial to the University Greys sponsored by Delta Gamma sorority and the Alumni Association, was created by the Tiffany Glass Company in 1890 or 1891 for the contract price of $500."1
2. Photo: Dudemanfellabra, Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Oxford_-_Ventress_Hall.jpg#/media/File:Oxford_-_Ventress_Hal...