As my last blog indicated, one of the first jobs of the Board of Trustees for a new university in Mississippi was that of dealing with buildings and selecting an architect. They selected William Nichols.
Nichols was born in England and came to the United States around 1800, settling in North Carolina, where he was named state architect in 1800. He was responsible for a number of buildings there, including some on the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill campus.
In 1827, Nichols moved to Alabama and was its state architect. Among other projects, he designed many of the original buildings at the University of Alabama-Tuscaloosa. Unfortunately, all of his buildings there but one were burned during the Civil War.
He next moved to Jackson, Mississippi, where he was architect for the current Governor’s Mansion and the Old Capitol building. His project at Ole Miss was a major one—designing and supervising the construction of five buildings—the Main Building (later named the Lyceum), two dormitories, two faculty homes (essentially duplexes with room for two families), and a cafeteria (called a mess hall or the Steward’s Hall). The Lyceum, of course, is the Ole Miss building he is most famous for and the only extant building of the original six structures.
Future blogs will provide more information on the buildings.
Gerald W. Walton was born in Neshoba County, Mississippi, on September 11, 1934. He graduated from Dixon High School and attended East Central Community College for two years. He graduated from the University of Southern Mississippi in 1956 and enrolled that fall at the University of Mississippi, where he received his master’s and Ph.D. degrees. After serving as an instructor for three years, he became an assistant professor of English in 1962 and was later promoted to associate and full professor. He served as Director of the Freshman English Program, Associate Dean of the College of Liberal Arts, Dean of the College of Liberal Arts, Associate Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, Interim Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs on three occasions, and Provost. He retired in 1999 and continues to live in Oxford.