The Millsaps Bowl, located in the center of campus, is at the heart of student life. Many events take place here, including a colorful MultiCultural Festival, annual Commencement ceremonies, and Homecoming activities. Students often congregate in the Bowl to study, socialize, and play intramural sports. In addition, the Bowl is the scene of activities fairs, open-air bazaars, and warm-weather picnics planned by Millsaps Dining Services.
The Bowl is also the home of the Millsaps Potted Oak. Quite a few visitors wonder why the large oak tree in front of the Campbell College Center is submerged in a massive brick and cement flower pot. According to Dr. Ross H. Moore, a graduate of Millsaps and a professor of history, the answer is simple. When the student union was being built, the irregular contour of the land had to undergo quite a bit of leveling. A great deal of earth had to be moved into what was then known as "Sullivan's Hollow" before construction could even begin. However, to pile such large quantities of dirt around the trunk of the old water oak surely would have killed it. To remedy the situation, a brick and cement pot topped with a metal grating was built around the base of the tree. Over the years, various objects and small animals have been dropped and trapped beneath the grating, including an angry and difficult-to-remove dog and a number of ducks. Nevertheless, the oak is still thriving after many years in its container. This shady location has built-in seats and is a popular place for students to congregate.
Near the center of the campus is the tomb of College founder Major R.W. Millsaps. His wife, Mary, is buried in the tomb as well. Constructed at the request of the Major himself in 1914, the mausoleum was finished not long before the Major died in 1916. The tomb has a stained glass window, chosen by the Major, which features a setting sun.
On July 7, 1916, the College Board of Trustees passed the following resolution concerning the tomb: "We shall count it a sacred and priceless privilege to have . . . our generous benefactor and his beloved wife to repose on the beautiful campus of our college which was so dear to the heart of our glorified co-worker and into which he put so much of the best energies of his life, thus consecrating it and giving us the opportunity to care for the tomb in which they shall sleep."
In 1926, several students decided that there was a need for an area where students could gather between their classes to linger. So, the classes of 1926, 1927, and 1928 held a conference and settled on a plan to erect a bench located between Murrah Hall and the Major's Tomb. It is now known to most students simply as the "M Bench," having borrowed its name from the famous "C Bench" at the University of Chicago. The project was the dream of Bill Ewing, Catherine Pail, Orrin Swayze, and many other members of the student body. The romantic tradition of the "M Bench" is that the first person a Millsaps student kisses on the bench is the person he or she will marry. It is now known to most students simply as the "M" Bench, and professors often use it as a warm-weather classroom.
The Civil War cannon is mounted beside a small grass-covered pit that was one of the original rifle pits used by the Federal Army in the third and last battle of Jackson during the Civil War. In 1916, Dr. John M. Sullivan, wishing to commemorate the historic rifle pits, secured the cannon from Senator John Sharpe Williams. Contrary to what one might assume, the cannon had never been on Mississippi soil prior to its arrival at Millsaps. It was shipped from New York City and was originally used by a Federal Division in New York during the Civil War.
The Blymer Bell resided at several different places before it came to its present resting place. The bell was originally selected and commissioned by a group of Sunday school children at the First United Methodist Church in Lake Charles, La., as part of a new church construction project in 1899. For months, the children brought in their pennies and nickles until the required sum for the purchase of the bell was raised. The bell was then shipped to Lake Charles and hung in the belfry of the new church on July 19, 1900. When a severe hurricane struck the church in 1918, the belfry was blown down. Rather than install the bell in a new church, the congregation decided to donate it to Millsaps College upon the suggestion of Bishop C.B. Galloway, the presiding Bishop of the Louisiana and Mississippi Conferences and also a member of the Millsaps Board of Trustees.
At Millsaps, the Blymer Bell hung in Buie Gym to ring out athletic victories until the gym burned in 1933. From 1933 to 1946, it remained beside Murrah Hall in a wooden scaffold up to the time two Mississippi College raiders felled the support. Over the years, the bell signaled chapel services, the hours of classes and meals, special athletic events, and even the ending of World Wars with its rich B-flat ring. At last, on May 13, 1946, the bell was placed in its present position of honor beside the library.
Whitworth and Sanders Hall sit adjacent to a historic campus landmark, the Millsaps gate posts. The brick and marble gate posts were constructed in 1941, funded by the senior classes of 1939, 1940, and 1941. The 12-foot high pillars, topped with electric lights, were originally placed on either side of the North State Street entrance to the campus. When this main entrance was closed in the late 1980's, the College chose to preserve the gate posts, which were placed at the pedestrian campus entrance in front of the Millsaps Founder's Tower.
A bronze statue of John Wesley, founder of Methodism, stands on the Millsaps campus thanks to members of the Classes of 1964, 1965 and 1966. These classes raised funds for the statue, and artist Ben Watts, Class of 1980, crafted the final product.
Class members Lee McCormick (1966), Ward VanSkiver (1965), and Kay Barksdale (1964), headed the campaign to raise funds for the statue. The idea came from McCormick, who saw the statue of Gandhi, located near Sullivan Harrell Hall, and thought it only fitting that a statue of John Wesley also be placed on the campus. The Gandhi statue was a gift from the India Association of Mississippi, so McCormick suggested that alumni from the mid-sixties raise the funds for a Wesley statue. In addition to the three alumni classes, Millsaps Methodists were also invited to contribute to the sculpture.
Religious Studies professor Dr. Darby Ray articulated the spirit of John Wesley in a welcome speech to visiting high school students, which shows how Millsaps embraces the Wesleyan spirit.
A statue of the Indian leader Mahatma Gandhi was unveiled in a November 2003 ceremony on the walk between the Ford Academic Complex and Sullivan-Harrell Hall. The statue, a gift of the India Association of Mississippi, honors a man who influenced the lives of millions through his philosophy of nonviolence and peaceful resolution to conflict. "The Gandhi statue is the first of many that we hope to place around the Millsaps campus to encourage our students, faculty, and staff to reflect on the great thinkers, writers, artists, and leaders who have made outstanding contributions for the good of humankind," said President Frances Lucas.
Mary Harmon was a Belhaven college home economics professor from 1952-1982. An advocate of hands-on learning, she helped her students carry out projects that benefited their communities.
In October, 2008, Mrs. Harmon celebrated her 102nd birthday. To honor her on this extraordinary occasion her daughter, Millsaps alumna Mary Parker Buckles, wanted to showcase her mother's teaching methodology and her lifelong love of plants and gardening. Mother and daughter invited Millsaps professor Debora Mann to work with her botany students in identifying and researching noteworthy campus trees. The map below is the result.
The labeled trees are located in five areas on campus: Whitworth Circle, the Bowl, the Plaza, the Nicholson Garden, and the south lawn of the Christian Center. Together they constitute the Mary Harmon Tree Trail.